Nissan CEO resigns after admitting he was overpaid

Posted September 9, 2019 8:42 a.m. EDT

— Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa has resigned. It's the latest twist in a mounting pile of problems at the Japanese carmaker.

The company's board of directors announced Saikawa's departure, which is effective September 16, after a meeting on Monday. It named Chief Operating Officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi as acting CEO while Nissan searches for a successor.

Saikawa's resignation came just days after he admitted to reporters in Japan that he and other top Nissan executives were overpaid as part of a stock-related payment plan. He denied any wrongdoing, and said he would return excess funds.

Details about the payments emerged in news reports ahead of Monday's board meeting, where the company's directors heard the results of an internal investigation into conduct at Nissan. The probe was prompted by the surprise arrest last November of former chairman Carlos Ghosn.

The company's stock appreciation rights program, or SAR, was a subject of the probe, according to Yasushi Kimura, the chairman of Nissan's board of directors. He spoke to reporters at a press conference in Yokohama, Japan on Monday.

While the payments were not illegal, he said, the program was "intentionally manipulated" to increase the amount of money that could be gained from the scheme.