By on January 12, 2019

Image: Nissan

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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17 Comments on “Ghosn Investigation Leads Top Nissan Exec to Bolt...”

  • avatar

    good time to buy NSANY or no? i bought volkswagen on the dip and it paid off eventually.

  • avatar

    “Nissan Exec to Bolt”? Wouldn’t a more appropriate headline read: “Nissan Exec to Leaf”?

  • avatar

    He did not Bolt, He LEAFt.

    See what I did there?

  • avatar

    The Japanese obviously think the way the west runs car companies is criminal in practice. They certainly would not tolerate the shenanigans of either Barra or Hackett. The charges against Ghosn were probably primarily created to oust him from running Nissan. I predict they will now try to take back ownership of Nissan from the French. The degree of xenophobia in Japanese culture is unknown to many Americans.

    • 0 avatar

      “I predict they will now try to take back ownership of Nissan from the French.”

      I agree. The Japanese needed to attract foreign investment and expertise to save their automakers, and now that they are saved, they’ll try to take them back and place them under Japanese control again.

      • 0 avatar

        Just because you type something doesn’t mean it’s true. And who’s “they” exactly?

      • 0 avatar

        “to save their automakers”

        Plural? Toyota and Honda needed saving?

      • 0 avatar
        Peter Gazis

        I think the deal is:
        Renault owns 50% of Nissan
        Nissan owns 25% of Renault
        & Nissan owns 85% of Mitsubishi

        • 0 avatar

          That last bullet point might be the key. To answer quaquaqua, “they” is the traditional Japanese keiretsu that runs corporations in Japan, hand-in-hand with finance and government.

          Ghosn was on the verge of turning Nissan into a foreign concern, now with key elements of the Mitsubishi conglomerate included. Japan’s industrialists, bankers, and ultimately the government were not about to let that happen.

          Look for the breakup of the Nissan-Renault “alliance”, now that Ghosn’s attempt to merge the two plus Mitsubishi without Japanese leadership has been thwarted.

        • 0 avatar

          The reality is, no need to “think”, just look it up:

          Renault owns 43% of Nissan
          Nissan owns 15% of Renault in non-voting shares
          Nissan owns 34% of Mitsubishi.

          You’re way off.

    • 0 avatar

      “The degree of xenophobia in Japanese culture is unknown to many Americans.”

      Your comment is relevant to this particular discussion but xenophobia in all Asian cultures is completely lost on most Americans.

      • 0 avatar

        A better term would be patriotic over zealousness. Xenophobia maybe too extreme of a term.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s called nationalism, and it’s not exclusive to asia. In the West, progressivism among the elites and in the press may have made people think it’s dead, but it’s not. A quick survey of international sporting events reveals nationalism is very much alive worldwide. We can only hope its expression is limited to sports. When it’s applied economically the result is mercantilism, and that can lead to its worst expression, war.

      • 0 avatar

        There are ethnic Koreans whose families have lived in Japan for generations yet are still regarded as gaijin.

        “I’ve been all around the world and compared to Europeans, Asians, and Africans, Americans are rank amateurs at racism.” Prof. Lewis Lancaster, University of California Berkeley.

  • avatar

    Ghosn is “not cooperating” by not signing a coerced confession. I wonder what “not cooperating” means was for Muñoz? Telling a truth that Nissan doesn’t want to hear?
    Under these circumstances I wouldn’t think that much would be required for a purge of foreigners at Nissan. The weight of the government has fallen against them—it is time to go.

  • avatar

    “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.

  • avatar

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

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