His eldest daughter, Caroline Ghosn, said when she saw Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa’s televised news conference and heard him condemn her father, she suspected that the company investigation had been started over opposition to a tie up between Nissan and Renault that her father was trying to arrange.
“For Saikawa to so adamantly denounce someone who had been his mentor and then immediately without any benefit of the doubt condemns him,” said the 31-year old, in the first interview since her father’s Nov. 19 arrest. “He didn’t even waste a breath. He didn’t even try to cover up the fact that the merger had something to do with this,” she added.
Her younger sister Maya, also breaking her silence, concurred. “It was my gut reaction that this was bigger than the accusations against my dad,” the 26-year old told the Times. Both sisters have no direct knowledge of their father’s business discussions but both said the Saikawa’s television address “cemented their belief that internal company dynamics were at play,” the newspaper said.
Greg Kelly, a Nissan director who was arrested with Ghosn and indicted for allegedly helping under-report the car titan’s compensation, spent a month in a Tokyo detention center before being granted bail on Dec. 26. Ghosn has remained in jail and has been accused of the additional allegations that he transferred his personal trading loss to Nissan in 2008.
When asked to comment on whether animosity over a potential merger drove Nissan’s investigation of Ghosn, Nicolas Maxfield, a Nissan spokesman, told the Times the claims were “baseless” and that the family would never have any reason to be privy to discussions related to the future of Nissan and the alliance.
“The cause of this chain of events is the misconduct led by Ghosn and Kelly,” Maxfield told the newspaper. “During the company’s internal investigation into this misconduct the prosecutor’s office began its own investigation and took action,” he added, according to the Times.