Despite a $1 million fine from the Securities and Exchange Commission, former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn appears to be getting fairer and better treatment than he’s received from Japanese regulators during the last year.
Ghosn and Nissan Motor Co. paid fines as part of a settlement reached by the parties on Friday due to false reporting of the former executive’s compensation package. In addition to the fine, Ghosn cannot hold a senior management position with any company in the U.S. for a decade.
Nissan was fined $15 million for its role in the scheme, according to the SEC. The problems, according to the SEC, began in 2004 when Nissan’s board delegated the authority to set individual director and executive compensation levels to Ghosn, including his own.
“Investors are entitled to know how, and how much, a company compensates its top executives. Ghosn and Kelly went to great lengths to conceal this information from investors and the market,” said Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.
According to the SEC, Ghosn, former top exec Greg Kelly and other leaders created ways to structure payment of the undisclosed compensation after Ghosn’s retirement, such as entering into secret contracts, backdating letters to grant Ghosn interests in Nissan’s Long Term Incentive Plan, and changing the calculation of Ghosn’s pension allowance to provide more than $50 million in additional benefits.
Ghosn’s legal team said in a statement they were “pleased to have resolved this matter in the U.S. with no findings or admission of wrongdoing … The SEC settlement expressly permits Mr. Ghosn to continue to contest and deny the factual and legal allegations against him in the criminal proceedings in Japan, and Mr. Ghosn fully intends to do so.”
The team added “that, if given a fair trial, he will be acquitted of all charges and fully vindicated.”
Ghosn is looking for a similar result in Japan; however, he faces a much taller task there. He’s been charged with receiving unreported income of about $44 million between 2011 and 2015. That figure has since been increased and he has been accused of a series of additional crimes.
Last month, as TheDetroitBureau.com reported, new evidence surfaced suggesting the executive ran an investment operation in Silicon Valley, along with his son, using millions of dollars illegally funneled through one of the automaker’s affiliates in Oman.
Ghosn was detained in the Tokyo Detention Center for about four months before being released on bail. He must follow strict rules, however, that limit his access to not only the Internet but also to his wife and other family members. His defense team has indicated they expect Ghosn’s first formal court hearing won’t take place until next March.
In the meantime, the same investigation led by the aforementioned Saikawa also discovered he had been overpaid during that time as well. Saikawa received about $440,000 in overpayments during that time.
Saikawa said he will repay the overage and plans to retire in the near future.