Nissan took the first comprehensive steps to share details with Renault about allegations against Carlos Ghosn in a move that may help ease a climate of suspicion that has clouded their partnership since the executive was arrested three weeks ago in Japan.
Since Ghosn's Nov. 19 arrest in Japan, the French government, Renault's biggest shareholder, has been demanding to see the findings of a Nissan internal investigation that include allegations of financial misconduct by Ghosn, who is chairman and CEO of Renault.
French government officials said on Tuesday that the dossier had been received by Renault but said the government remained unaware of its content.
Renault had requested that the findings be shared under a strict legal procedure that required the agreement of the Japanese prosecutor, a government source said. "For the moment we don't have the detailed contents of these documents so we can't take a position."
Nissan obtained clearance from local prosecutors to be able to circulate the information, a source told Bloomberg.
A lack of written evidence and Ghosn’s presumption of innocence were cited by Renault for the decision by its board to install an interim management team rather than oust Ghosn as chairman and CEO. Details from Nissan could hasten steps to remove him.
Renault's board meets on Thursday Dec. 13 amid mounting pressure to dismiss Ghosn as chairman and CEO. Ghosn's declared salaries at Renault and Nissan have been politically sensitive in France, where President Emmanuel Macron is now battling street protests that have shaken his government.
France holds a 15 percent stake in Renault and two board seats.
Ghosn's detention has brought tension to the forefront of the three-company Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance led by Ghosn. The timing of the Japanese probe prompted some analysts to say the scandal may have been manufactured in order to block a deeper integration between Nissan and Renault that he advocated. Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who has strongly opposed a merger, denied that such a motive was behind the investigation.
In response to Renault’s request for information about the allegations against Ghosn, Nissan had in the past offered to share a summary. Renault declined to review that presentation, citing the need to see the full report and to have lawyer-to-lawyer communication.
Renault has separately been conducting its own investigation into whether the pay packages of its top managers, including Ghosn, were properly disclosed. That review is nearing its initial conclusions, and the board is expected to be briefed this week, people familiar with the matter said on Dec. 7.
Should Ghosn be removed from the helm of Renault, his roles of CEO and chairman are likely to be split. Thierry Bollore was hand-picked by Ghosn as his successor and has been temporarily handed Ghosn's CEO powers at Renault. Ghosn has already been removed as chairman at both Nissan and Mitsubishi.
Renault and Nissan have complicated cross-shareholdings, and poor relations would make operations difficult. The French automaker is the largest shareholder in Nissan and has voting rights, while the Japanese company is the second-largest shareholder in Renault, with no votes. Nissan is keen to achieve a more equal power balance but its demands have been stonewalled by Renault and the French state.
Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report