Nissan has expanded its probe into former chairman Carlos Ghosn with the investigation into various European subsidiaries that may bring more criminal charges.
Automotive News has learned from sources that the focus of the investigation will be around the Renault-Nissan BV based in the Netherlands. This was set up by the two automakers back in 2002 to be a strategic management company that oversees the alliance. But one source says that Nissan is planning to look into "as many as a dozen other Nissan-affiliated subsidiaries set up in the Netherlands," for possible financial misconduct. Japanese prosecutors are looking into some of the companies with the help of Nissan.
Also still under investigation is Zi-A Capital BV, another Netherlands-based entity Nissan set up in 2007 as a venture capital company. The company was flagged by Nissan auditors who could not find evidence of venture investment, a person familiar with the case said. Zi-A instead seemed to be paying for real estate that Nissan now claims was acquired for Ghosn’s personal use.
The subsidiaries were established in the Netherlands, partly because it was seen as a kind of neutral territory between Japan and France. The Netherlands also has lower tax rates than Japan and more relaxed rules governing the disclosure of executive compensation.
This move may signal that the scandal may have reached outward of Japan and bring investigations right to Renault's doorstep. Automotive News also notes this could "further complicate" the delicate relations between the two.
That neatly transitions us to a report from Reuters where a source reveals that Renault has told Nissan not to contact its directors ahead of a December 13th meeting of their board. The source says "such contact was outside the agreed channels for communication of the sensitive findings."
As we reported back on Friday, Nissan offered Renault "a presentation that summarized the evidence" to help assuage some suspicious held by the French automaker. Renault declined, asking Nissan for the "presence of lawyers and the full report on the allegations." This reportedly came earlier this week as officials from Nissan met with Renault's legal team in France.
The meeting tomorrow will see the members of the board discuss the findings of Nissan's investigation and debate the future of Carlos Ghosn.
Spokespeople for Nissan and Renault declined to comment.