Former Chairman Carlos Ghosn Used Nissan Funds to Purchase Houses, Pay Family: Report

Several properties in Brazil, Paris, Beirut, and New York are believed to have been purchased with company funds.

byRob Stumpf|
Nissan News photo

In new findings, former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn is believed to have used misappropriated funds to purchase as many as six houses across the globe. Reports by Japanese news outlet Yomiuri Shimbunm reveal that Ghosn may have used suspected ill-gotten compensation from Nissan to cover various personal expenses.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Nissan established a subsidy company in Amsterdam called Zi-A Capital which was believed to have been used for investment purposes. Documents show that Nissan has provided at least $44.3 million (5 billion Japanese Yen) in compensation to the subsidy since 2010; its director and the sole employee being none other than American Greg Kelly, Nissan's Representative Director who was implicated alongside Ghosn.

Over the next two years, Zi-A would reportedly set up at least two other subsidy companies in the British Virgin Islands and one more in Lebanon. Both countries well known for their loose-fitting tax laws which corporations often use as tax havens.

Nissan found evidence that the four shell companies, two of which operated under the guise of being paper manufacturers, paid out a minimum of $18.6 million (2.1 billion JPY) to purchase up to six houses with company funds. This includes residences in global hotspots such as Amsterdam, Beirut, New York, Paris, and Tokyo.

Though circumstantial at best, it is important to note that Ghosn, a French citizen born in Brazil, has deep ties in Beruit, which is coincidentally where the most expensive property was purchased. At least $8 million of Zi-A's funds were allocated to purchase the home in Beirut, plus an additional $5.3 million which was spent on renovations. Ghosn resided in Beirut with his family from the time he was six years old until he moved to Paris to complete his post-secondary education.

Additional reports claim that an additional property in Brazil was also purchased by the shell corporation. This particular property is located in Rio de Janeiro where Ghosn lived with his family from prior to moving to Beruit, and it is believed that Ghosn used the condo as an avenue for funneling as much as $1.7 million to his older sister under the spurious role of property management and consulting.

Late last week, Nissan removed Ghosn from his position as board chairman and urged alliance partner Renault to do the same. Under additional pressure from the French government, who is also a key stakeholder in the automaker, Renault has chosen to take no further action until additional facts are given and asked Nissan to share its findings on the matter in order to remain transparent.

Ghosn reportedly rejected the allegations on Sunday according to Japanese broadcaster NHK, which cites statements from sources familiar with the matter. The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is now investigating if other executives may be involved.