Renault chairman and chief executive Carlos Ghosn should not remain in charge of the company following his arrest in Japan, the French finance minister said today.
“Carlos Ghosn is no longer in a position where he is capable of leading Renault,” Bruno Le Maire told local media, according to Reuters.
“Nevertheless, we have not demanded the formal departure of Ghosn from the management board for a simple reason, which is that we do not have any proof and we follow due legal procedure,” Le Maire added.
Ghosn, who leads the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, was arrested yesterday in Japan following an internal investigation into misconduct by Nissan. The company accused Ghosn of "significant acts of misconduct", including the under-reporting of his salary.
Le Maire called on the board to hold a meeting to discuss the company’s management structure while Ghosn is detained for questioning in Japan.
The board will be meeting later today, according to Reuters.
Japanese newspaper Asahi today reported the investigation into Ghosn’s alleged misconduct had spread to expensive homes bought by Nissan subsidiaries.
The French government holds a 15 per cent stake in the car manufacturer, which saw its shares fall over three per cent this morning.
But a memo sent by Renault’s chief operating officer, Thierry Bollore, last night revealed the company’s executives support their boss.
“We are of course closely monitoring the situation, and as you will understand it is not our place to comment at this stage. On your behalf, we would like to state here our full support for our chairman and CEO,” said Bollore, according to the Financial Times.
In a statement published yesterday, Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa said he would propose the removal of Ghosn from his role at the company. The Japanese car manufacturer's share price fell almost six per cent today to its lowest level in two years.
Renault yesterday acknowledged the contents of Saikawa’s statement.
“Pending provision of precise information from Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive officer of Renault, the above directors wish to express their dedication to the defence of Renault's interest in the alliance,” the company said.
Renault declined to comment.