Photo/IllutrationA car with investigators arrives at the Tokyo Detention House in the capital’s Katsushika Ward on Nov. 19. (Shigetaka Kodama)

  • Photo/Illustraion

If deferred payments were added to Carlos Ghosn’s reported remuneration for fiscal 2017, the amount would have reached 2.5 billion yen ($21.9 million) and broken the combined ceiling set for all Nissan Motor Co. board members, sources said.

Nissan’s securities reports listed the remuneration for Ghosn, the former Nissan chairman who is now under arrest, at about 730 million yen for fiscal 20l7, down by 33 percent from a year earlier.

The reduction apparently resulted from the fact that Ghosn stepped down as Nissan president and CEO in April 2017 to become chairman.

Although his reported pay decreased, the total of 2.5 billion yen that included the deferred pay would have been the largest amount for Ghosn since the Financial Services Agency set a rule on naming high-paid executives.

Investigators of a special team of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office arrested Ghosn and Greg Kelly, a Nissan board member, on Nov. 19 on suspicion of conspiring to under-report Ghosn’s pay by about 5 billion yen in Nissan’s financial reports from fiscal 2010 to 2014.

The unreported money was in the form of payments that Ghosn would receive after he retired as a board member. Investigators said these amounts should have been included in Nissan’s securities reports.

The sources said the amount not reported by Ghosn between fiscal 2015 and 2017 could push the total figure to 9 billion yen.

Ghosn, who was dismissed as Nissan chairman on Nov. 22, has said he believes the arrangement not to report his post-retirement payments was legal. Kelly has also denied any wrongdoing, according to the sources.

Ghosn became Nissan’s president in 2000 and CEO the following year. Although he turned around the troubled automaker, he faced constant criticism that his pay was too high by Japanese standards.

In 2008, when Ghosn was receiving about 2 billion yen annually in compensation, Nissan set a 2.99-billion-yen ceiling on board members’ combined remuneration at a general shareholders meeting.

In addition, the FSA required listed companies to disclose the names of executives who received 100 million yen or more a year in remuneration, and to list the specific amounts in financial reports starting in fiscal 2009.

Ghosn and Kelly are believed to have concocted a plan to maintain his high pay by listing his income as about 1 billion yen in Nissan’s financial reports while not reporting the post-retirement payments, the sources said.

Between fiscal 2010 and 2014, with Ghosn’s pay marked at about 1 billion yen, the total remuneration for the Nissan board members was below the 2.99 billion yen ceiling.

Nissan’s financial report for fiscal 2017 showed the total compensation amount paid to board members, including Ghosn, was about 1.5 billion yen. But if the 1.7 billion yen in deferred payments to Ghosn was included, the total amount would have exceeded the limit.

In 2017, Nissan was embroiled in a scandal after unqualified workers were found to have been conducting inspections of finished cars for many years.