Nissan Motor Co.'s representative director, who was arrested with Chairman Carlos Ghosn for allegedly conspiring in financial misconduct, has denied that Ghosn's salary was underreported in the company's securities reports, sources close to the matter said Saturday.
Greg Kelly said Nissan's securities reports were properly written and there were no problems with them, the sources said. It is the first time comments made by either of the two Nissan officials on the allegations have become known since their arrest on Monday. Both Ghosn, 64, and Kelly, 62, were stripped of their posts at an emergency board meeting Thursday.
Kelly rebutted that there was an intention to falsely represent Ghosn's salary in the securities reports, saying he wrote the reports after consulting with company officials and not on Ghosn's orders, according to the sources.
Tokyo prosecutors arrested Ghosn for allegedly underreporting his salary by around 5 billion yen ($44 million) for five years through fiscal 2014 while receiving nearly 10 billion yen during the period.
The arrest came after a small group, involving board members, clandestinely conducted an internal investigation starting this spring, according to other sources familiar with the matter.
The in-house investigation was triggered by a whistleblower report. Until then, although there had been some suspicion in the company of Ghosn misappropriating Nissan funds, he was so powerful that people were afraid to criticize him, according to the sources.
Ghosn is also suspected of having tried to cover up a total of 8 billion yen in remuneration by underreporting his salary for eight years, according to other sources familiar with the matter.
He allegedly determined the remuneration as about 2 billion yen per year and underreported it by half, the sources said.
Ghosn is believed to have made his remuneration look smaller to avoid criticism from Nissan shareholders, they said.
The underreporting that allegedly continued in the three years since fiscal 2015 would bring the total amount of money covered up to around 8 billion yen, they said.
Meanwhile, Nissan's corporate auditors suspect the company bought residences for Ghosn through an Amsterdam-based overseas investment subsidiary named Zi-A Capital BV, the sources said.
Nissan put some 6 billion yen into the company when it was set up in 2010.
Ghosn became a board member of Zi-A Capital when it was established but resigned the following year. Kelly and some former Nissan executives have been on the list of its board members.