Tokyo, Japan, Nov 19 – Japanese prosecutors are questioning Carlos Ghosn, head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, and are expected to arrest him on suspicion of false income reports, local media reported on Monday.
There was no immediate comment on the news from Nissan, but it said it would hold a press conference later on Monday evening.
The news was first reported by the Asahi Shimbun, which said it had “learnt that the Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office asked Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn on the evening of the 19th to come in voluntarily on allegedly violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Acts, as he is suspected of underreporting his salary.”
He was likely to face arrest after the questioning, the newspaper added. Other local media carried similar reports. The prosecutor’s office declined to comment.
Public broadcaster NHK reported that Tokyo prosecutors were raiding Nissan’s headquarters in the city of Yokohama.
Renault shares plunged nearly 5 percent on the shock news.
“If he is arrested, it’s going to rock the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance as he is the keystone of the alliance,” said Satoru Takada, an analyst at TIW, a Tokyo-based research and consulting firm.
“He is the man of charisma for the alliance. It is likely to have a negative impact on its brand image,” he told AFP.
Nicknamed Le Cost Killer, Brazil-born Ghosn, 64, is known for overhauling Renault and Nissan starting in the nineties.
Renault came to the rescue of the then-ailing Japanese automaker in 1999 and parachuted in Ghosn, who set about slashing costs and jobs in a huge corporate overhaul.
In 2016, Ghosn also took charge at troubled Mitsubishi after Nissan threw it a lifeline, buying a one-third stake for about $2.2 billion as it wrestled with a mileage-cheating scandal that hammered sales.
Ghosn has a high profile in Japan and is known as a major advocate of the country’s auto sector.