Carlos Ghosn. Picture: AFP/LUDOVIC MARIN
Carlos Ghosn. Picture: AFP/LUDOVIC MARIN

Paris — The board of Renault was poised to cancel as much as €30m in deferred pay and severance to its ousted boss Carlos Ghosn, as directors met on Wednesday to approve its full-year accounts, sources told Reuters.

Renault will scrap about 460,000 performance shares attributed to Ghosn since 2014-2015 and now worth €26m, under proposals backed by the French government, its biggest shareholder, two people familiar with the matter have said.

The board is also likely to drop a two-year, non-compete clause worth €4m to €5m to Ghosn, who was forced out in January following his arrest in Japan for suspected financial misconduct at Nissan, Renault’s alliance partner.

A Renault spokesperson did not immediately return calls and messages seeking comment.

Ghosn was arrested in Japan and ousted as Nissan chair last November and has since been indicted along with Nissan and a fellow director for failing to disclose more than $80m in additional 2010-2018 compensation that he had arranged to be paid later. Ghosn denies the deferred pay was illegal or required disclosure.

The scandal, triggered by a Nissan internal investigation, initially strained ties with 43.4%-owner Renault as the French car maker continued to back Ghosn until he was eventually forced to resign last month.

Renault appointed new chair Jean-Dominique Senard on January 24 and, last week, passed evidence to prosecutors that the company had paid part of Ghosn’s 2016 Versailles wedding costs, in the  first case of his suspected misconduct at Renault.

Ghosn’s representatives say he was unaware the €50,000 rental had been charged to Renault and now plans to repay it.

The proposal to scrap most of Ghosn’s severance package was drawn up by Renault’s remuneration committee and is unlikely to be rejected by the full board, the sources said. Left intact, his golden parachute could have been politically explosive in France, where President Emmanuel Macron is battling “yellow vest” street protests over low pay and inequality.

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire had asked the government’s lead board representative at Renault to “ensure that Mr Ghosn’s compensation is cut as much as possible”, a ministry official said on Wednesday. “We’ve always been against excessive pay,” the official said. “It’s not about the presumption of innocence but ethics and decency.”

Reuters