Hiroto Saikawa, former president and CEO of Nissan Motor Corp. Photo: AFP

The CEO of crisis-hit Japanese automaker Nissan received more pay than he was entitled to, local media reported Thursday, as the firm continued to reel from the arrest of its former chief for financial misconduct.

Several outlets, including the Jiji press agency, said Hiroto Saikawa admitted the overpayments to reporters on Thursday morning.

“I apologize for causing worry,” the agency quoted him as saying.

“I received [remuneration] in several cases in a form that is different from the rules. I thought it was the result of correct procedures,” he added, denying any personal wrongdoing.

The admission comes as Nissan struggles to right itself in the wake of the arrest and ouster of its former chief Carlos Ghosn, who has been charged with several counts of financial misconduct and is out on bail in Tokyo.

Japanese media reported an internal probe by Nissan found that Saikawa and other executives received more equity-linked remuneration than they were entitled to.

Contacted by AFP, Nissan had no immediate comment on the reports.

The Nikkei business daily said Saikawa was suspected of improperly adding 47 million yen ($443,000) to his compensation by altering the terms of a bonus.

The matter will be reported to Nissan’s board meeting later this month, reports said.

However, Nissan does not believe the overpayment was in violation of any laws, Kyodo News reported, citing unnamed sources.

The overpayments were made in a scheme known as stock appreciation right (SAR), under which directors can receive a bonus if their company’s share price rises above a certain level in a set time period.

Nissan is currently undergoing an overhaul intended to strengthen governance after the Ghosn scandal.

In June, Nissan shareholders voted in favor of various measures including the establishment of three new oversight committees responsible for the appointment of senior officials, pay issues and auditing.

They also approved the election of 11 directors as the firm restructures, among them two Renault executives as well as Saikawa.

The reforms are designed to put Nissan on a more stable footing after the arrest of Ghosn, who has been sacked from his leadership roles at the Japanese firm and others.

He is awaiting trial on charges of under-reporting millions of dollars in salary and of using company funds for personal expenses.

He has denied any wrongdoing and accuses Nissan executives opposed to his plans to further integrate the firm with France’s Renault of plotting against him.


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