TOKYO – Two top Nissan executives are on leaves of absence as the scandal-plagued Japanese carmaker cranks up investigations into all corners of its global business, scouring for possible malfeasance related to the tenure of ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn.
On leave are Chief Performance Officer Jose Munoz, the former head of Nissan North America, and Senior Vice President Arun Bajaj, who heads human resources at Nissan and is also senior vice president of talent development at the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.
Bajaj is on leave and providing information to prosecutors in Japan, a person familiar with the matter said. Nissan issued a separate statement saying Munoz is taking time off “to assist the company by concentrating on special tasks arising from recent events.”
When asked about his status last month outside his Yokohama, Japan, home, Bajaj said “I’m staying out of it. No comment.” Munoz did not immediately reply to request for comment.
Both men were hired into Nissan during the Ghosn era are considered loyalists to the embattled former boss, Nissan insiders say. Munoz is considered a possible successor to CEO Hiroto Saikawa.
Munoz, who joined Nissan in 2004 in Europe, is also a board member of Renault-Nissan B.V., the joint venture in the Netherlands owned 50-50 by Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA.
As chief performance officer, Munoz led Ghosn’s push to achieve the goals of his Power 88 midterm plan unveiled in 2011: 8 percent operating profit margin and 8 percent global market share. Nissan missed those targets, but Munoz did briefly deliver another top goal: 10 percent market share, a gain of more than 3 percentage points from the plan's starting point.