Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa resigns following overpayment scandal

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Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa tendered his resignation Monday after acknowledging that he had received dubious income and vowed to pass the leadership of the Japanese automaker to a new generation.

Board member Yasushi Kimura told reporters at an evening news conference at company headquarters in Yokohama that the board has approved Saikawa's resignation, effective Sept. 16, and a successor will be appointed next month. A search is underway, he added.

Calls for Saikawa's resignation, which arose after the arrest last year of his predecessor, Carlos Ghosn, on various financial misconduct allegations, have grown louder after Saikawa acknowledged last week that he had received dubious payments.

The income was linked to the stock price of Nissan Motor Co., and he has said his pay got inflated by illicitly adjusting the date for cashing in.

The automaker's board met to look into the allegations against Saikawa, as well as other issues related to Ghosn's allegations and corporate ethics at the company.

Kimura said the income Saikawa had received was confirmed as “not illegal.”

Ghosn, who is out on bail and awaiting trial, says he's innocent. Saikawa has not been charged.

“I have been trying to do what needs to be done so that I can pass the baton over as soon as possible,” he told reporters earlier in the day, referring to his willingness to leave his job.

He did not attend the news conference.

Saikawa has said he didn't know about the improprieties, promised to return the money and blamed the system he said Ghosn had created at Nissan for the dubious payments.

Japanese media reports said Saikawa had received tens of millions of yen (hundreds of thousands of dollars) in extra compensation.

Ghosn has been charged with falsifying documents on deferred compensation, which means he did not receive any of the money.

Nissan's profits and sales have tumbled over the past year. Investors are also worried about Nissan's relationship with alliance partner Renault SA of France, which owns 43 percent of Nissan. Ghosn was sent in by Renault to lead Nissan two decades ago.

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa has resigned and the resignation will take effect September 16, according to a Nissan official. A successor is set to be named later.

Saikawa admitted Thursday he received more pay than he was entitled to but denied wrongdoing.

Nissan is already mired in scandal over the arrest and ouster of ex-boss Carlos Ghosn, who is accused of wrongdoing including misrepresenting his compensation. Current CEO Saikawa acknowledged he had received pay to which he was not entitled.

“I left the issue to someone else so I had thought it was dealt with in an appropriate manner,” Saikawa told reporters in Tokyo.

But he denied any wrongdoing and said he would return the excess payments.

The admission came after local media reported an internal Nissan probe found that Saikawa and other executives received more equity-linked remuneration than they were entitled to.