Head of Nissan’s internal Ghosn probe resigns


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TOKYO — Christina Murray, the Nissan Motor Co. vice president in charge of the internal probe of the Carlos Ghosn scandal, has abruptly resigned.

Murray stepped down recently, a person familiar with the matter confirmed Friday.

The American lawyer promoted to vice president of internal audit and compliance in April had been spearheading a companywide investigation into misconduct following the arrest of former Chairman Ghosn last November on charges of financial wrongdoing.

A Nissan spokesperson said the company does not comment on such personnel matters. Murray was not immediately available for comment.

The reason for her departure was not immediately clear, but it follows Japanese media reports that CEO Hiroto Saikawa improperly exercised a stock-linked compensation scheme to boost his payout by nearly a half-million dollars. Saikawa acknowledged being overpaid through the system, but he said he neither ordered the payments nor knew about how they were handled.

After the reports, Saikawa also said he would return the excess amount to the automaker.

Nissan’s internal investigators are expected to share their latest findings on the Ghosn scandal with the board of directors Monday, a spokesman said this week.

The findings are expected to address how Saikawa’s share appreciation rights were handled.

Other executives are believed to have inappropriately gamed the incentive system, although doing so is not a breach of law, a person familiar with the matter said.

Murray’s departure could be a setback for Nissan’s efforts to root out malfeasance as the company tries to reform corporate governance in the wake of the Ghosn upheaval.

The development could also spell more headaches for Nissan as it struggles to rekindle bottomed-out earnings, reboot its flailing U.S. business and mend strained ties with its partner Renault. Japan’s No. 2 carmaker is also in the midst of laying off 12,500 workers.

Saikawa, a former Ghosn protege, is under pressure from some investors, media commentators and even company insiders to pave the way for new leadership and deliver a clean break from the two-decadelong Ghosn era, in which Saikawa played a prominent management role.

Saikawa has said the company is preparing a succession plan, but he hasn’t offered a timeline.




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