Tokyo, Feb. 24 (Jiji Press)–Former Nissan Motor Co. <7201> chief Hiroto Saikawa told a court Wednesday that former representative director Greg Kelly asked him to pay generous compensation after retirement to former Chairman Carlos Ghosn.
Saikawa, 67, former president and CEO of the Japanese automaker, made the remarks at Tokyo District Court as a witness at the trial of Kelly, 64, who has been charged with helping Ghosn, 66, conceal his pay.
The former CEO said Kelly told him around 2011 that Ghosn’s compensation was lower than U.S. and European standards. Saikawa served as representative director and executive vice president at the time.
“Kelly said that we needed to prepare handsome packages after retirement” for Ghosn in order to keep him motivated and prevent him from leaving Nissan for other firms, Saikawa said, adding that he agreed to Kelly’s request.
The former CEO signed documents relating to Ghosn’s compensation after retirement several times. Saikawa said, “I signed the documents without reading them carefully.”
He said he had confidence in Kelly, who drafted the documents. “Signing the documents meant an expression of his intention to support Kelly in a passive way,” Saikawa said.
Saikawa also said that Ghosn had expressed a negative view on disclosure of the names of corporate executives earning 100 million yen or more annually, a requirement introduced in Japan in fiscal 2009.
In April 2017, Saikawa succeeded Ghosn as Nissan president and CEO.
Saikawa severely criticized Ghosn for hiding his pay and using Nissan for personal gain after the former chairman’s financial misconduct came to light. But Saikawa stepped down in September 2019 over his own pay scandal.
Ghosn escaped from Japan in December 2019 while on bail awaiting trial on financial charges.