Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn arrested for financial misconduct

Carlos Ghosn (photo), PDG de Nissan, va être arrêté par le parquet de Tokyo pour violation présumée de la réglementation japonaise sur les instruments financiers et les changes, rapporte le site internet du journal nippon Asahi. /Photo d'archives/REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Yesterday I told you that Renault Sport F1 were feeling positive about their 2019 chassis development so far and how that must be good news to a guy like Daniel Ricciardo who is pinning his career on the team’s ability to become competitive.

Now it seems that Renault’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn, has been arrested in Japan as Nissan has accused him over “significant acts of misconduct”. Ghosn, a key architect in creating he Renault-Nissan alliance and former Nissan CEO, is accused of using company assets for personal use as well as misrepresenting his salary over many years.

The accusation is that Ghosn and director Greg Kelly had been reporting lower compensation “to reduce the disclosed amount of Carlos Ghosn’s compensation” Nissan said in a statement. Ghosn created the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance in 1999 and was credited for saving Nissan.

Ghosn stepped down as Nissan’s CEO last year but remained on as Chairman which Nissan says they will remedy with his removal. Renault owns more than 43% of Nissan while Nissan owns 15% of Renault. Nissan is now the more profitable of the two companies and it also owns 34% of Mitsubishi.

Will any of this have an impact on Renault’s Formula 1 program? Difficult to know but Renault’s stock has been taking a beating this year and has slumped to a new multi-year low. I don’t want to overplay this news but it can be issues such as these that radically change the trajectory of a company’s interest in F1. Think Toyota, BMW, Honda and Renault back in 2008-ish.

Renault’s stock is down about 33% this year over US-China trade issues and this news can’t help matters. Let’s hope it has no impact on the F1 program but Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi have all taken a hit to stock prices. The three companies employ 470,000 people in 200 countries.

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Arrested? Wow. Incidents like these make manufacturers re-assess many things like motorsports. Think Dieselgate and its aftermath in sinking both Porsche and Audi’s factory race programs. I’m surprised the Renault-Nissan alliance lasted this long.

Tim C.

Very sad situation. Money can cause people to make very poor decisions. On a side note, does that photo of Mr. Ghosn remind anyone else of “The Grinch”?