French finance minister says Renault to bring case against Ghosn over expenses

Paris (AFP) –


The finance minister of France, which holds a 15 percent stake in Renault, said Wednesday the auto giant plans to bring a case against former chief executive Carlos Ghosn after identifying 11 million euros of questionable expenses.

The prospect of new legal action backed by France marks a new headache for the former Renault CEO, who was also Nissan chairman in the alliance with the Japanese carmaker, after his arrest in Tokyo in November.

"The (French) state will hand over all the elements to the judicial authorities and there will be a complaint," Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told BFM TV in an interview.

"The state will play its role fully as a Renault shareholder. When the state has a shareholding like it does in Renault, its role is to assure that (corporate) governance works well," he added.

He said the conclusions of an internal audit carried out by Renault had uncovered "reprehensible" facts and it was now up to the judicial authorities to take the next decision.

The internal audit conducted by Renault and Nissan identified 11 million euros ($12 million) of questionable expenses at their Dutch subsidiary RNBV linked to Ghosn.

"These findings confirmed the existence of deficiencies within RNBV in terms of financial transparency and procedures for monitoring expenditure," Renault said in a statement late Tuesday.

It said that the company was looking into legal action over Ghosn's "extra costs of air travel" and other expenses "as well as exploring recovering from Mr Ghosn gifts made to some non-profit organisations."

The 65-year-old Ghosn, who maintains his innocence, is awaiting trial in Japan over charges of under-reporting his salary for years while at Nissan and using company funds for personal expenses.

Renault board members had met Tuesday to discuss a proposed merger with Fiat Chrysler. Renault said it was studying the offer with interest but would meet Wednesday for more discussions.