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Nissan, M'bishi Motors mull closure of joint venture in Netherlands

This undated combined file photo shows Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors logos. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. are considering closing their joint venture in the Netherlands in the wake of financial conduct allegations against their ousted Chairman Carlos Ghosn, sources with knowledge of the plan said Saturday.

The venture, Nissan-Mitsubishi B.V., was established in June 2017. Mitsubishi Motors said in January that an internal investigation had found Ghosn "illegally" received around 7.82 million euros ($8.9 million) in remuneration from the overseas unit.

The venture was set up to maximize synergies between the two Japanese automakers, which form a three-way alliance with Renault SA. Besides Ghosn, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa and Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko are members of its board.

To close the venture, Nissan and Mitsubishi will need to comply with the unit's internal rules requiring them to consult Ghosn, who served as chairman of all three automakers, according to the sources.

It remains uncertain whether Nissan and Mitsubishi will be able to shut down the joint venture, the sources said, adding the two automakers are at the same time considering integrating its functions with a different joint venture in Japan.

Mitsubishi's internal probe was conducted following Ghosn's arrest in mid-November by Japanese prosecutors over the alleged understatement of his remuneration in Nissan securities reports.

The investigation found that Ghosn concluded an unauthorized employment agreement with the Dutch unit before receiving the payment around April to November 2018, according to Mitsubishi.

It said other directors of the venture did not know about the payment.

Ghosn, who has denied wrongdoing, was released on bail earlier this week after more than 100 days in detention.

The 65-year-old has been charged with understating his remuneration by around 9 billion yen ($80 million) in Nissan's securities reports over the eight years through March last year and aggravated breach of trust for having transferred 1.85 billion yen in personal losses from derivatives contracts to the automaker in 2008.

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