Nissan has reportedly paid the tuition fees for Ghosn’s four children when they attended Stanford University between 2004 and 2015.
The unusual perk was part of Carlos Ghosn’s contract with Nissan from 1999, when he was first hired as CEO of the Japanese manufacturer, according to an anonymous source cited by Bloomberg. This kind of treatment, which isn’t common even among top executives, would have cost Nissan at least $601,000 according to Stanford’s fee schedules of the specific era.
Nissan declined to comment, as well as Ghosn’s lawyer in Paris. If true, the Stanford tuition fees are the latest in a long list of lavish extras Ghosn enjoyed during his time as head of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi, including a wedding party at the Chateau of Versailles and luxury residences on four continents.
However, Robin Ferracone, the boss of an executive-compensation consulting firm in the US, thinks that it’s “highly unlikely” that Nissan would pay the university fees for Ghosn’s kids. “Typically you only see tuition reimbursements as part of expatriate assignments, and those are for kids below university age,” Ferracone said.
Nissan’s official filings in Japan and the U.S. didn’t include any information on Ghosn’s benefits. In the US, the law says that executives’ benefits are taxable compensation and that U.S. public companies must report them to investors. The SEC has already opened an investigation into whether Nissan has accurately disclosed the compensations of its executive personnel, with the Japanese company saying it’s cooperating.
In Japan, the law requires companies to report compensation for their top executives into their financial reports but they are not required to detail any benefits awarded to them.
As a frequent public speaker, Ghosn has made at least five public appearances at Stanford during the years his children attended, including speeches at the graduate school of business in 2007, 2010 and 2014.