One of the senior executives of Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) resigned, which further shook the Japanese automaker's management team while the investigation was expanding the investigation into the alleged financial misconduct of ousted president, Carlos Ghosn.
Jose Munoz, widely regarded as a close ally of Ghosn and a potential successor to the partnership in the automotive sector between Nissan and the French group Renault SA, was a "person of interest" in the internal investigation longer and longer Nissan.
The 53-year-old Nissan's head of performance and operations in China announced the announcement on Friday in an article published by LinkedIn. In a statement, Nissan said Munoz had "chosen to resign" from the company, with immediate effect. He refused to offer details.
He is the latest leader since Nissan in November deposed Ghosn as president and sacked director Greg Kelly.
The resignation carries a new blow to the Japanese manufacturer, struggling with the scandal at a time when it struggles to maintain its profitability in the United States and to develop aggressively in China.
Reuters announced on Friday that the Japanese automaker was reviewing decisions made in the United States by Munoz, who led Nissan's operations in North America from 2016 to 2018.
"Unfortunately, Nissan is currently involved in cases that have and will continue to detract from its purpose," Munoz said in his post.
"As I have already made known recently and repeatedly to the company, I look forward to continuing to help Nissan in its investigations."
People familiar with the problem said that Munoz, who had been put off earlier in the month, had not cooperated with the internal investigation.
Ghosn, who was once one of the most famous leaders of the automobile industry and the anchor of Nissan's alliance with Renault, is still in custody in a detention center. from Tokyo since his first arrest in late November.
Ghosn has been charged with under-reporting of income and aggravated breach of trust for temporarily transferring losses related to personal investments worth 1.85 billion yen ($ 17 million) to Nissan.
The scandal caused a shock wave in the auto industry and heightened tensions between Nissan and Renault, where Ghosn is still chairman and chief executive officer.
Munoz joined the carmaker in 2004 in Europe and led its significant expansion in North America after the global financial crisis. Since then, Nissan has managed to increase its market share in the United States and record record sales.
Earlier this year, Nissan hired Munoz to oversee its operations in China, where it plans to increase sales in the coming years.
Since then, the world's largest auto market has shown signs of slowing down, prompting the automaker to trim its local production plans in the coming months.