Posted Feb 1 2020 at 5:01 p.m.Updated Feb 1. 2020 at 5:51 p.m.
Hidetoshi Imazu is already 69 years old. He no longer needs to come to the office every day. Except that in the spring of 2018, questions are piling up. For months, Nissan’s external auditors, Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC, have urged financial management to enlighten them on the function and accounts of an obscure entity based in the Netherlands called “Zi-A Capital”. Consulted by the finance division, the all-powerful CEO Office, which manages the president’s affairs independently of the other departments of the group, delays his responses.
There were also rumors in 2017 about a plan to discreetly pay bonuses to a handful of Renault-Nissan Alliance executives, including Carlos Ghosn and Hiroto Saikawa. The bankers from Ardea Partners, former Goldman Sachs alumni still based in New York, had worked on a set-up through another subsidiary in the Netherlands. The leaks had killed the idea. But the financiers were still paid. In an invoice dated July 25, 2017 addressed to Renault-Nissan BV (which we were able to consult), they claimed $ 1.5 million for “services rendered” and $ 49,219.57 for reimbursement of “expenses”. In total, they would have collected $ 3 million. It’s a lot for a project that Carlos Ghosn has always denied the existence. Especially in the eyes of a picky frame like Hidetoshi Imazu. Perhaps his pride was stung alive: until 2014, he was one of the administrators of RNBV, one of the starting points for suspicious payments.
For clarification, the latter turns to Hari Nada. His name also figures among the directors of the mysterious Zi-A Capital. Since March 2015, the Anglo-Malaysian lawyer has headed the all-powerful CEO Office, described as a “black box” on the other floors. The man, who also reigns over the manufacturer’s legal affairs, has taken over from his former boss Greg Kelly. This brilliant lawyer, feared by his teams to the point of being secretly given the nickname “Darth Vader”, had wished to return to live in the United States. Still a member of the board of directors, the American returned a lot at the start of his semi-retirement and continued to oversee the big files. But for months now, we haven’t seen him on the 21st floor /… /
Hari Nada first hesitates to speak. He knows everything but has been silent for years. The fear of Greg Kelly and Carlos Ghosn, suppose his relatives. “A mistake and they released you”, blows one of his colleagues. The satisfaction also of being essential to the organization. Especially since in the absence of his two superiors, he has grown in importance and weighs on the choices of the new CEO Hiroto Saikawa. The Franco-Brazilian-Lebanese president only spends two or three days a month at headquarters. He is scattered between his posts. “By dint of being everywhere, he was nowhere”, sums up a frame.
In mid-May, while his fate is being played out in a gray office in Yokohama, the boss takes a break in Cannes for the Film Festival with Carole and their guests. On the 11th, they climbed the steps under the flashes of the celebrity press for the screening of the last film by the Chinese Jia Zhangke. The title: “The Eternals”. The story of a couple of Chinese delinquents who tear each other apart after being arrested by the police and sentenced to prison terms.
To read, the other extracts from the book:
The tale of an incredible escape
Carlos Ghosn’s secret wound
In prison, the story of a terrible humiliation
The story of an incredible arrest
Coming tomorrow, the following extracts from the book
When Carlos Ghosn was still a rock star
by Régis Arnaud and Yann Rousseau
Stock editions, 263 pages, 19.50 euros, in bookshops on February 6
Régis Arnaud lives in Japan since 1995. He is correspondent for “Figaro”, “Challenges” and Europe 1. He is also editor-in-chief of the economic magazine France “Japon Eco”. He is the author of a novel, “Tokyo c’est fini” published in 1998. Yann Rousseau is the correspondent for “Les Echos” and Radio Classique in Japan. He is also a columnist on France Info. He followed step by step the rise and fall of Carlos Ghosn in Japan. He was one of the very first to interview him in his Japanese prison. He previously worked in China and Vietnam.