Potential 'Purge' of Ghosn-Era Nissan Executives Sparked Amid Ongoing Income Scandal

Two top-level company leaders have stepped away from their roles, both of which could be linked to the ongoing Ghosn saga.

ERIC PIERMONT—AFP/Getty Images

The saga involving former Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance bigwig Carlos Ghosn has been growing for months after he was allegedly found to be underreporting his income by millions of dollars. While he remains in Japanese custody for violating the country's Financial Instruments and Exchange Act, other top-level executives are now on their way out of Nissan, supposedly due to potential snags related the Brazilian-born businessman's current trial.

A report from Automotive News details the resignation of Chief Performance Officer Jose Munoz, the man who assisted Nissan in achieving all-time sales records in the United States as of late. According to documents obtained by AN, Munoz told colleagues that his decision to step down came after “some period of serious contemplation.” Although withdrawing himself from his position, Munoz explained that he will assist in Nissan's ongoing probes.

“Unfortunately, Nissan is currently involved in matters that have and will continue to divert its focus,” Munoz said. “As I have repeatedly and recently made clear to the company, I look forward to continuing to assist Nissan in its investigations.”

Munoz was well-regarded within the Japanese automaker's executive ranks and often thought to be a possible replacement for CEO Hiroto Saikawa in the future.

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Jose Munoz out as Nissan Chief Performance Officer.

Jose Munoz speaking at a 

Furthermore, news of Senior Vice President Arun Bajaj taking a leave of absence has shone light on the plague-like woes initiated by Ghosn's alleged wrongdoings. Sources reportedly familiar to the situation told AN that Bajaj will still cooperate with investigations despite his current status.

One insider hinted to AN that a "purge" may be underway within the skunkworks of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, doing away with Ghosn-era bosses altogether. 

No reasons were cited by Munoz upon his announcement to leave his post, though some believe that internal friction could've played a major role. Unidentified sources claimed that the Spanish native had not been cooperating fully with the company's probes against Ghosn. This, along with awarding supposedly questionable supplier contracts, had allegedly brought heat upon Munoz that may have led to his departure.

Munoz was reportedly scheduled to appear at January's Consumer Electronics Show as part of the Nissan Leaf e+ debut, though that was conclusively scrapped and Munoz did not attend.