Nissan’s Board of Directors announced that the company’s CEO Hiroto Saikawa will step down from his position on September 16. Nissan’s COO Yasuhiro Yamauchi will fill in as acting CEO until a new full-time CEO steps in.
Nissan’s Board of Directors asked Saikawa to resign from his CEO position and he accepted, after an internal investigation revealed that Saikawa received improper payments through the company’s stock appreciation scheme.
According to Bloomberg, Saikawa was overpaid by 90 million yen ($841,000) via stock appreciation rights. Saikawa admitted that he and several other Nissan executives received improper payments.
Nissan Chairman Yasushi Kimura said that they aim to find a full-time replacement by the end of October.
The soon-to-be former Nissan CEO has been under mounting pressure for the past couple of days as reports revealed the improper payments to himself and other executives.
Nissan launched its internal probe after a Japanese magazine published accusations from former director Greg Kelly in June, who alleged that Saikawa had been granted an exception in 2013 to reschedule a stock-linked bonus that increased his payout by 47 million yen ($445,962).
Saikawa was re-appointed as CEO in Nissan’s revamped Board of Directors last June, also despite growing concern about his oversight during the time of Carlos Ghosn’s alleged financial misconduct. Saikawa served as co-CEO with Ghosn before taking over control as CEO in 2017.
According to local media, Nissan is considering ditching the stock appreciation rights system, which was first established in 2003 as an incentive for managers.