Bangkok Desk, Jan 12 (EFE).- A top Nissan Motor Co. executive and ally of Carlos Ghosn resigned Friday, the company said, the first shake-up at the Japanese auto maker since the arrest of the former chairman, according to a Dow Jones report supplied to EFE on Saturday.
José Muñoz, who went on a leave of absence a week ago, oversaw business strategy for Nissan's seven regional and business units and had direct oversight of the company's China operations.
His future had been in question following the Nov. 19 arrest of Mr. Ghosn in Japan and criticism from current Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa, who had blamed the company's recent profitability struggles on its U.S. strategy. Mr. Muñoz had been considered a potential successor to Mr. Saikawa.
Mr. Muñoz, in a statement posted on LinkedIn and confirmed by his spokesman, said he would continue to assist Nissan in its investigation into alleged financial misconduct involving Mr. Ghosn and colleague Greg Kelly. Messrs. Ghosn and Kelly have denied any wrongdoing.
"Unfortunately, Nissan is currently involved in matters that have and will continue to divert its focus," Mr. Muñoz said in the statement. Mr. Muñoz wasn't available for immediate comment, his spokesman said.
Nissan's investigation into alleged financial misdeeds by Mr. Ghosn has expanded since Mr. Ghosn's ouster as chairman at a Nov. 22 board meeting. The team looking into Mr. Ghosn's actions has grown to include over 100 people around the world, according to Nissan.
Mr. Ghosn, who was charged on Dec. 10 with failing to report his compensation accurately in Nissan's financial statements, has remained in a Tokyo jail since his arrest. Prosecutors on Friday hit Mr. Ghosn with fresh charges of abusing his position at the auto maker for personal gain.
Mr. Muñoz, a native of Spain, joined Nissan in 2004 and was named president of Nissan's Mexico operations five years later. Taking over as chairman of Nissan's North American operations in 2014, he led the car maker through robust growth and record U.S. sales.
He was appointed to the role of chief performance officer in 2016. Mr. Muñoz said in his statement he would explore new opportunities and is looking forward to remaining a part of the auto industry.
By Adrienne Roberts
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