Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is starting out the new year a little rocky.
Today a federal judge in Nashville ordered Nissan to turn over accounting records to the IRS of their off-shore business dealings in Bermuda. The years in question are 2005 and 2006, during which time James C. “Jim” Morton was Nissan’s Head of Administration & Finance. Mr. Morton has since retired from Nissan.
To make things worse, French automobile company Renault SA has now suspended three employees for suspected industrial espionage.
How is that Nissan or Carlos Ghosn’s problem you ask?
Carlos Ghosn is CEO of both Nissan and Renault. Mr. Ghosn is in a unique position, serving as CEO of two automobile companies. Nissan is based in Japan and Renault in France. The $70 million, 460,000 square foot office building that Nissan built and occupies in Cool Springs Franklin is Nissan’s North American headquarters.
Renault today announced they have suspended three employees for suspicion of breaches of company ethics including leaking electric-car secrets. News organizations in France have reported the three Renault executives suspended are suspected of giving strategic information to third party entities outside the company. The Renault executives are suspended without pay and barred from entering their workplace.
Michel Balthazard, a member of the French automaker’s Management Committee and Vice President for Advance Engineering, was the most senior of the three executives. With Michel Balthazard on Renault’s Management Committee means the espionage may have taken place at the highest levels of the company. Michel Balthazard has been a member of the Management Committee of Renault since January 2008.
Renault said the three accused executives are being given a chance to respond and the final verdict is pending an investigation.
Renault along with Nissan, are invested heavily in electric vehicle technology. The automakers, working together, are investing over $5 billion to develop electric vehicles.
The two automobile companies are truly joined at the hip with Renault holding a 44.3% stake in Nissan, while Nissan holds 15% of Renault shares. Each company has a direct interest in the results of its partner. Renault and Nissan have a ton at stake with their huge investment on 100% electric automobiles gaining market share.
Carlos Ghosn has said he believes electric cars will represent 10% of global automobile sales in a decade. Both companies have gambled accordingly and bets are on the table.
Which leads us to wonder…is any of this related to the Nissan Whistleblower’s online diatribe blogged over the last year? Is it purely coincidental?
Either way, it’s been a bad week for Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.
And it’s only Wednesday.