The Nissan Motor Co. unanimously voted to overthrow President Carlos Gosn Thursday after a heavy-duty heavyweight heavyweight ambush, leading a period of uncertainty about his 19-year-old alliance with Renault.
The Japanese firm said its board also voted to remove Greg Kelly – who as Gon has been arrested after allegations of financial abuse – from acting as a director.
The move, which leaves the president's position, is empty, though Renault has called on the Nissan board before a meeting to postpone the removal of Ghosn, sources close to this issue told Reuters.
The Franco-Japanese alliance, raised in 2016 to include the Japanese "Mitsubishi Motors", was gunned down to its core by the arrest of 64-year-old Ghosn in Japan on Monday.
Gosn shaped the alliance and pressed for deeper connectivity, including the potential full merger of Renault-Nissan when it called on the French government, despite strong reservations in the Japanese firm.
Japanese prosecutors said Gasn and Kelly pledged to underestimate Gas's compensation in Nissan for five years in 2010, saying it was about half the real 10 billion yen ($ 88 million).
Shin Kukimoto, deputy public prosecutor in Tokyo's district attorney general, said on Thursday that the court's approval was received a day earlier to detain Ghosn in 10 days, but he could not comment on whether he confessed to accusations.
Nissan's directors have five seats on the nine-member board, Renault's loyalists have two seats, and the other two are held by unconnected external directors, a former bureaucrat and racing driver.
With Gon and Kelly still in custody, none of the men could vote or defend the meeting.
Renault refrained from shooting Ghosn as president and CEO.
But Mitsubishi Motors is planning to remove Ghosn from the post of chairman at a board meeting next week.
Due to growing uncertainty about the future of the alliance, the Japanese finance minister and the French finance minister are scheduled to meet in Paris on Thursday to look for ways to stabilize it.
"For me, the Alliance's future is a bigger deal," a senior Nissan official told reporters on Wednesday when he was asked about the arrest of Gon. "It's obvious that in this age, we need to do things together. Being part of it would be impossible."
TERMINATION OF RESTRICTIONS
Nissan announced on Monday that an internal investigation caused by a touch of an informer found that Gon got involved in an offense, including personal use of money from the company and insufficient reporting on its earnings for years.
Gosn and Kelly did not comment on the accusations and Reuters could not reach them.
Prosecutors said Gosne is in the Tokyo detention center, which is known for its strict regime, far from its usual luxurious lifestyle, including sleeping restrictions during the day and the requirement to wear a mask when meeting with visitors to prevent spread of the disease.
The detention house "is pretty cold at this time of the year," the internet entrepreneur and convicted fraudster Takufumi Hori told Twitter.
Motonari Otsuru, a former public prosecutor, who is known for overseeing the case against Hori, was hired as an attorney at Gosn, NHK reported. Otsuro's law office refused to confirm that he represented Gon and said no-one was available for comment.
Asahi Shimbun on Thursday, quoting unnamed sources, said Gasn had given Kelly orders by e-mail to give false statements about his reward. Tokyo prosecutors have probably seized the associated emails and can use them as evidence, the report said.
Yomiuri, the biggest daily newspaper in Japan, quoted unnamed sources that Nissan's internal investigation showed that Ghosn of 2002 required that his old sister pay him about $ 100,000 a year in compensation for an unsuccessful advisory role.
The newspaper reported that Nissan had discovered the investigation that the sister of Gasn actually lived and managed a luxury apartment in Rio de Janeiro, which the company bought through a foreign subsidiary, but did not make advisory work for the automaker. Nissan shared information with prosecutors, Jomouri said.
The shares in Nissan closed at 0.8%, in line with the wider market, before the board meeting.