Ghosn Investigation Leads Top Nissan Exec to Bolt

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ghosn investigation leads top nissan exec to bolt

Nissan’s chief performance officer, José Muñoz, has resigned from the company amid an broadened investigation into former chairman Carlos Ghosn’s alleged financial misconduct. Muñoz, 54, who also headed up Nissan’s Chinese business, previous had his hand on the tiller of the company’s North American operations.

Muñoz’s sudden departure, which comes just days after the exec took a leave of absence, points to turmoil in the upper ranks of the Japanese automaker, with one insider calling it a “purge.”

News of the exec’s departure broke late Friday night, with Nissan saying the resignation was effective immediately. In an email to colleagues obtained by Automotive News, Muñoz said the decision came after “some period of serious contemplation,” adding, “Unfortunately, Nissan is currently involved in matters that have and will continue to divert its focus. As I have repeatedly and recently made clear to the company, I look forward to continuing to assist Nissan in its investigations.”

As Ghosn languishes in a Tokyo jail, facing three indictments and awaiting trial, one Nissan insider told Automotive News of a “purge” of Ghosn-era executives. Senior Vice President Arun Bajaj has also embarked on a leave of absence.

The timing of Muñoz’s departure is enough to raise eyebrows. Just hours before word of his resignation, Reuters reported Nissan’s investigation into financial wrongdoing had expanded to other countries, with Muñoz listed as a person of interest. A source claimed the leave of absence came as a result of the probe. From 2014 to 2016, Munoz served as senior vice-president of Nissan North America before switching to the chairman’s seat, and was seen as being very close to Ghosn.

Other sources claim Muñoz was not cooperating with Nissan’s internal investigation.

Earlier this week, Ghosn spoke publicly at a Tokyo court hearing, denying the allegations against him and insisting his financial practices were above board.

[Image: Nissan]

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  • Conundrum Conundrum on Jan 13, 2019

    "If Nissan bought an additional 10% stake in Renault on the market, its holding would rise to 25% — a level at which, under Japanese law, the French company would lose its voting rights in Nissan. Were that to happen, Nissan would be able to convene, and prevail in, an extraordinary shareholder meeting to remove Renault directors from its board. Then it could start dissolving the web of joint purchasing and car-platform agreements that hold the alliance together." And if Nissan are even now doing that buying up of Renault shares, plus the statements they have issued about a Committee to run Nissan, rather than anoint Saikawa to take Ghosn's place there as Big Guy In Charge, one can imagine the ensuing wonderfulness of product. It's not that great now. Remind me again who rescued Nissan from virtual bankruptcy in 1999? It was Renault who put up the cash and installed Ghosn. Three years later, all was good again, and Ghosn was lionized in Japan. Too bad he and Renault didn't do the "honorable" thing and b*gger orf right then, leaving Nissan to be proud of itself, and being able to rewrite the record as if nothing had happened.

  • Jfk-usaf Jfk-usaf on Jan 14, 2019

    Maybe its time to change some corporate policies and direction too. No more CVTs??!...? please?

  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai
  • El scotto Huge lumbering SUV? Check. Unknown name soon to be made popular by Tiktok ilk? Check. Scads of these showing up in school drop-off lines? Check. The only real over/under is if these will have as much cachet as Land Rovers themselves? A bespoken item had to be new at one time. Bonus "accepted by the right kind of people" points if EBFlex or Tassos disapproves.
  • El scotto No, "brothers and sisters" are the core strength of the union. So you'll take less money and less benefits because "my company really needs helped out"? The UAW already did that with two-tier employees and concessions on their last contract.The Big 3 have never, ever locked out the UAW. The Big 3 have agreed to every collective bargaining agreement since WWII. Neither side will change.
  • El scotto Never mind that that F-1 is a bigger circus than EBFlex and Tassos shopping together for their new BDSM outfits and personal lubricants. Also, the F1 rumor mill churns more than EBFlex's mind choosing a new Sharpie to make his next "Free Candy" sign for his white Ram work van. GM will spend a year or two learning how things work in F1. By the third or fourth year GM will have a competitive "F-1 LS" engine. After they win a race or two Ferrari will protest to highest F-1 authorities. Something not mentioned: Will GM get tens of millions of dollars from F-1? Ferrari gets 30 million a year as a participation trophy.