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January 28, 2019

Now SEC eyes Nissan executive pay disclosure

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reportedly is investigating whether Nissan Motor accurately disclosed its executive pay in the US, according to several Bloomberg sources, compounding the carmaker's woes as it grapples with the aftermath of former chairman Carlos Ghosn's arrest.

By Olly Wehring

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reportedly is investigating whether Nissan Motor accurately disclosed its executive pay in the US, according to several Bloomberg sources, compounding the carmaker's woes as it grapples with the aftermath of former chairman Carlos Ghosn's arrest.

Bloomberg reported its sources said the US financial regulator was examining whether Nissan's executive pay disclosures were accurate and whether the carmaker maintained adequate controls to prevent improper payments.

Nissan, in response to questions, confirmed it had received an inquiry and was cooperating fully. Through a spokeswoman, Kristina Adamski, the company said it could not provide further details.

Bloomberg said the SEC inquiry, launched out of its Washington headquarters, is focused on whether lapses by Nissan in reporting on its executives' pay violated US securities law, according to one of its sources. Another said the regulator's work was slowed by more than a month of partial US government shutdown.

While the SEC's civil inquiry is in its early stages and may not point to wrongdoing, it adds a layer of complexity for Nissan and the two former executives, Carlos Ghosn and Greg Kelly. The SEC, which often works closely with law enforcement, could seek financial penalties and injunctions to prevent violation of laws or SEC rules.

John Nester, a spokesman for the SEC, declined to comment to Bloomberg.

Aubrey Harwell Jr, a lawyer for Kelly, said his client hadn't received an SEC subpoena and declined further comment. US- and Japan-based representatives for Ghosn declined to comment.

Bloomberg noted that, in a memo to staff last month, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who succeeded Ghosn as CEO, said oversights in the company's corporate governance "permitted the situation to continue, which clearly calls for grave reflection".

Bloomberg said signs of discord are emerging between France and Japan. French president Emmanuel Macron, whose government is the most powerful shareholder in Renault , has told Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe he's worried about Ghosn's conditions in jail, making his strongest comments yet on the fallen car titan and the scandal that has rocked the two decade old alliance.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said today (28 January) due process is being followed in Ghosn's detention and investigation.

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