Ghosn joins ranks of executives accused of financial impropriety

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Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, arrested in Japan for alleged financial violations and facing removal from his job, looks set to join the unhappy club of prominent corporate chieftains accused of misusing their highly-paid positions for personal gain.

The 64-year-old is accused of underreporting his income and making personal use of company assets, according to a Nissan statement. Ghosn gained near-legendary status in the auto industry by rescuing Nissan from collapse and forging an alliance with Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. He didn’t respond to calls seeking comment.

As the following examples show, such legal cases rarely end well for the accused executives:

• Rodrigo Rato, former chairman of Spain’s Bankia SA, began serving a 4 1/2-year prison sentence in October, after he was convicted of misappropriating company funds. He and 63 other executives at Bankia and savings bank Caja Madrid were found to have used their corporate credit cards to rack up some 12 million euros ($13.8 million) in personal expenses. Rato, a former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has apologized for the so-called Black Cards scheme.

• Martin Sorrell, former CEO of London-based advertising giant WPP Plc, resigned last April from the company he founded and led for three decades following a probe into alleged personal misconduct and misuse of company assets, including allegations that he used WPP funds to pay for sex. Sorrell has denied any wrongdoing, and the company has not disclosed details of the allegations, citing a confidentiality agreement.

• John Visconti, former CEO of the now-bankrupt Hollywood payroll services firm Axium International, was convicted with a co-conspirator of taking more than $5 million from the company and failing to report the income to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. He was sentenced in 2017 to two years in prison and ordered to pay $1.75 million to the IRS.

• Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., was convicted in 2009 of evading taxes by keeping money in bank accounts under other peoples’ names. He was pardoned, but the case is now back in the news, after police in South Korea reported this year they had uncovered 260 fresh accounts under the names of 72 Samsung executives, harboring about 400 billion won ($354 million) in assets belonging to Lee.

• L. Dennis Kozlowski, former CEO of security and fire-detection systems maker Tyco International Ltd., was convicted in 2005 in the U.S. on charges that he stole from the company through unauthorized bonuses and inflated stock gains. He used the proceeds to finance a lavish lifestyle including a $30 million Fifth Avenue apartment and a $15,000 umbrella stand. He served more than eight years in prison.

Bloomberg News
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