Carlos Ghosn has agreed to pay $1 million to the US Securities and Exchange Commission to settle claims that he concealed compensation received from Nissan, an allegation that forms the basis of criminal charges against the embattled former auto executive in Japan.
The SEC’s lawsuit was a civil matter, unlike the criminal charges he faces in Japan. He did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
“We are pleased to have resolved this matter in the US with no findings or admission of wrongdoing,” a spokesperson for Ghosn’s legal team said in a statement.
“The SEC settlement expressly permits Mr. Ghosn to continue to contest and deny the factual and legal allegations against him in the criminal proceedings in Japan, and Mr. Ghosn fully intends to do so,” according to the statement. “Mr. Ghosn and his defense team are now able to focus their efforts on continuing to vigorously fight the criminal case in Japan and pursue his claims against Nissan around the world. They remain confident that, if given a fair trial, he will be acquitted of all charges and fully vindicated.”
Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November 2018 and charged with violating financial laws by filing false statements related to his compensation. Ghosn, who was chairman of Nissan (NSANF) and chairman and CEO of its alliance partner Renault (RNLSY) at the time of his arrest, has since been removed from both positions.
After his November arrest, he remained in jail for 108 days in Japan until he was released in March 2019. He was back in jail for a couple of weeks after a second arrest in April. He remains in Japan in a court supervised apartment awaiting a trial date to be set. His spokesperson said he has limited access to the Internet and no contact with his wife.
The US securities regulators also reached settlements with Greg Kelly, an American who served on Nissan’s board and was charged along with Ghosn in the Japanese criminal case; the SEC also settled with Nissan. Kelly agreed to pay $100,000, while Nissan agreed to a $15 million fine.
The SEC settlement with Ghosn prohibits him from serving as an officer or director of a publicly traded company for 10 years. The agency said that Ghosn concealed more than $90 million of compensation from Nissan investors, as well as taking steps to increase his retirement benefits by $50 million.
“Investors are entitled to know how, and how much, a company compensates its top executives. Ghosn and Kelly went to great lengths to conceal this information from investors and the market,” said Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the SEC’s division of enforcement.