Nissan China boss Jose Munoz resigns after reports of wider Carlos Ghosn probe

Nissan Motor’s head of China operations Jose Munoz has resigned following reports that the Japanese carmaker has broadened its investigation into ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn’s alleged financial misconduct.

Reuters reported earlier on Friday that the Japanese carmaker was looking into decisions made in the United States by Munoz, who led Nissan’s North American operations from 2016 to 2018.

He joined the carmaker in 2004 in Europe and led its ambitious expansion in North America after the global financial crisis.

Since then, Nissan has succeeded in raising its market share in the United States.

What’s US$120 million? That’s peanuts in the rarefied, jet-set world that Carlos Ghosn and corporate executives live in

In a LinkedIn post on Friday, Munoz said: “I am proud to have played a role in achieving 74 per cent growth in North America, gaining market dominance in Mexico, getting China market share on the growth path, and helping the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance become the highest volume group in the world.”

Earlier this year, Nissan tapped Munoz to oversee its operations in China, where it plans to ramp up sales over the next few years.

Since then, the world’s largest auto market has been showing signs of a slowdown, prompting the carmaker to cut local production plans in the coming months.

China is Nissan’s second-largest market, accounting for roughly one-quarter of its annual global vehicle sales. Last year the company planned to boost sales to make China its biggest market in terms of vehicle sales by 2022.

A statement by Nissan’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn, in his own defence against charges of breach of trust in Tokyo court

Munoz, 53, who is also the carmaker’s chief performance officer, has been with Nissan for 15 years. He was recently placed on a leave of absence due to the ongoing investigation.

Munoz, who is widely seen within the industry as close to Ghosn, was a “person of interest” in the investigation and it was not clear whether he would be accused of any wrongdoing.

“I look forward to continuing to assist Nissan in its investigations,” Munoz said in the post.

Ghosn, once one of the most celebrated executives in the car industry and the anchor of Nissan’s alliance with France’s Renault, has been charged with under-reporting his income. On Friday, he was also charged with aggravated breach of trust, accused of shifting personal investment losses worth 1.85 billion yen (US$17 million) to Nissan.