PARIS/TOKYO -- Renault-Nissan hired the French auditor Mazars to investigate possible wrongdoing within the alliance, people familiar with the matter said, a sign the partners are moving forward on a joint probe following Carlos Ghosn's arrest for alleged financial crimes.
Mazars will look into Renault-Nissan BV, the Amsterdam-based unit set up by the automakers to coordinate their alliance, for any misconduct such as the misuse of company assets, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private matters. Spokesmen for Renault, Nissan and the alliance declined to comment. Mazars did not return calls seeking comment.
The audit follows the Nov. 19 arrest of Ghosn in Tokyo on allegations of understating his income at Nissan by tens of millions of dollars and temporarily transferring personal trading losses to the company. The executive, who has denied wrongdoing, has been in custody ever since.
Ghosn was ousted as chairman of Nissan and alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors shortly after his arrest, and he resigned as CEO and chairman of Renault last week.
The allegations against Ghosn that emerged from the months long investigation at Nissan subsequently triggered a probe at Renault into the pay of its top executives. Nissan had pushed for the third, joint probe at RNBV, which Renault agreed to last month.
Meanwhile, Nissan is grappling with its own legal fallout from the scandal. The automaker has been indicted in Japan for misreporting Ghosn's pay, and it also faces an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Nissan has said its cooperating fully with the inquiry.
On Wednesday, the automaker reported its first full-year sales slump since 2009. Auto deliveries declined 2.8 percent, adding to the challenges the company faces in the wake of the allegations. By comparison, rival Toyota showed a 2 percent increase.
RNBV’s board members include Renault CEO Thierry Bollore, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa and the head of Renault’s CEO office, Mouna Sepehri.
Renault's probe is led by Eric Le Grand, a former head of security who recently was appointed to be an ethics and compliance officer, and another Renault insider, Claude Baland, a former top civil servant. They had not found issues in Ghosn's remuneration as of their latest update.