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Nissan executive seen as close to Ghosn steps down

In this Sept. 12, 2018, file photo, Jose Munoz, the head of Nissan's China operations speaks during an interview in Shanghai, China. (AP Photo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- An executive of Nissan Motor Co. who was seen as close to Carlos Ghosn, the ousted chairman of the Japanese automaker, has resigned, a company official said Saturday, as investigations into allegations of financial misconduct against the once high-flying industry titan widen.

Jose Munoz, a native of Spain, held the position of Nissan's chief performance officer, in charge of overseeing its global operations. Munoz was particularly responsible for the automaker's key Chinese market but had recently taken a leave of absence.

Nissan explained Munoz's leave as due to his need to focus on different tasks. But a Nissan official said at the time that the "current management team was on alert against him as he is loyal (to Ghosn)."

From 2014 to January last year, Munoz served as chairman of Nissan's North American operations, after being in charge of sales and marketing in Latin America.

Tokyo prosecutors and Nissan's internal investigations have been expanding since Ghosn's ouster as chairman of the automaker at a board meeting on Nov. 22 following his arrest for allegedly understating his remuneration in financial documents submitted to Japanese regulators for five fiscal years through March 2015.

On Friday, Ghosn was charged with two additional counts of financial misdeeds -- aggravated breach of trust and violation of the financial instruments law by understating his remuneration for three fiscal years to March 2018.

Nissan has reportedly broadened the scope of its ongoing in-house probe to include decisions made in the past in the United States, Latin America and India.

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