Nissan’s chief performance officer, José Muñoz, has resigned from the company amid an broadened investigation into former chairman Carlos Ghosn’s alleged financial misconduct. Muñoz, 54, who also headed up Nissan’s Chinese business, previous had his hand on the tiller of the company’s North American operations.
Muñoz’s sudden departure, which comes just days after the exec took a leave of absence, points to turmoil in the upper ranks of the Japanese automaker, with one insider calling it a “purge.”
News of the exec’s departure broke late Friday night, with Nissan saying the resignation was effective immediately. In an email to colleagues obtained by Automotive News, Muñoz said the decision came after “some period of serious contemplation,” adding, “Unfortunately, Nissan is currently involved in matters that have and will continue to divert its focus. As I have repeatedly and recently made clear to the company, I look forward to continuing to assist Nissan in its investigations.”
As Ghosn languishes in a Tokyo jail, facing three indictments and awaiting trial, one Nissan insider told Automotive News of a “purge” of Ghosn-era executives. Senior Vice President Arun Bajaj has also embarked on a leave of absence.
The timing of Muñoz’s departure is enough to raise eyebrows. Just hours before word of his resignation, Reuters reported Nissan’s investigation into financial wrongdoing had expanded to other countries, with Muñoz listed as a person of interest. A source claimed the leave of absence came as a result of the probe. From 2014 to 2016, Munoz served as senior vice-president of Nissan North America before switching to the chairman’s seat, and was seen as being very close to Ghosn.
Other sources claim Muñoz was not cooperating with Nissan’s internal investigation.
Earlier this week, Ghosn spoke publicly at a Tokyo court hearing, denying the allegations against him and insisting his financial practices were above board.