During his time at the helm of Nissan Motor Co., Carlos Ghosn earned a lot more than his Japanese peers -- but not nearly as much as other global auto leaders.
Jetting around the world to supervise auto operations, Ghosn averaged about $15 million annually in total compensation during the five-year period through 2015 that is now the subject of investigation in Japan. That total includes what he was paid by Nissan and his other employer, French automaker Renault SA.
It was roughly 10 times as much as the leaders of Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. were each paid in the period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Further afield, though, auto executives were reaping much bigger gains, with company shares on top of salary: Ford Motor Co., which twice reached out to Ghosn about its top job, paid its chief executive officer $24 million annually during the period. The late Italian auto executive Sergio Marchionne collected almost $40 million a year in that time, mostly from a large award related to the tie-up of Fiat SpA and Chrysler Group LLC.
Now, criminal investigators want to know whether Ghosn reported all his income properly and whether he dipped into the corporate till for personal outlays -- effectively subsidizing a life that had grown to include homes in Paris, Tokyo and Brazil, and other emblems of luxury, notably a 2016 wedding party at Versailles with a Marie Antoinette theme.
This week, Nissan announced that it had uncovered evidence -- after being tipped by a whistle-blower -- that Ghosn underreported his income in Japan by $44 million, or 5 billion yen, and misused corporate assets. He was arrested, and the board of Japan’s second-largest automaker is set to vote Thursday afternoon on a motion to dismiss him. Since his detention, Ghosn has been unavailable to comment on the allegations. He hasn’t been charged.
Crisscrossing the globe in a corporate jet, Ghosn spread his time between a Tokyo penthouse that was raided this week by authorities and rarefied addresses in Paris and its suburbs; Rio de Janeiro; and Beirut, according to Japanese and French media reports.