TOKYO – Nissan Motor’s CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, will step down on Sept. 16 on the back of an investigation into overpayments the executive allegedly benefited from, the automotive company announced on Monday.
Saikawa has been Nissan Motor’s president and CEO since April 1, 2017 and was key in the process that led to the prosecution of former president Carlos Ghosn.
He reached the highest level of executive power in the Japanese group after Ghosn was arrested on Nov. 19, 2018 over alleged financial irregularities.
Saikawa’s resignation was announced Monday during a press conference with other managers of the company.
His resignation was made public days after Saikawa admitted he had increased his earnings by speculating on the terms of a salary bonus which was subject to the performance of the company’s shares.
Nissan does not consider that this was illegal but Saikawa has pledged to return the money.
Saikawa had said in the past he was intending to step down to give way to a new generation, but never specified when.
However, Monday’s announcement suggests that the investigation into the compensation scandal may have sped up his departure.
At a press conference, one of the four members of the Nissan Motor board of directors, Yasushi Kimura, read a brief statement saying that Saikawa had “recently expressed his willingness to resign” and after discussing the issue at a meeting of the board of directors that took place Monday a decision was made to make his resignation “effective September 16.”
Saikawa agreed to do so, and from Sept. 16 he will be provisionally replaced as CEO of Nissan Motor by the firm’s chief operating officer, Yasuhiro Yamauchi.
A selection process to appoint a successor will also be launched.
After the press conference in the city of Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Saikawa himself appeared before reporters in the same room to offer a similar explanation about his departure.
Saikawa offered his apologies to shareholders and employees for abandoning his duties, although he said it was already in his plans.
“It’s a bit early, but the council discussed the issue and decided it was September 16,” he said.
Saikawa was CEO of Nissan Motor when Ghosn held the presidency of the company, and subsequently assumed both charges after Ghosn’s arrest and subsequent judicial prosecution before the Tokyo courts.
In the past he had been very critical of the accumulation of power Ghosn had assumed and since leading the firm he promoted a series of actions to improve the company’s governance and reform its management bodies.