Car Industry

SEC also looking into Nissan and Carlos Ghosn, report says

Nissan is reportedly complying with the US financial regulator.

Ghosn could spend the next decade in jail if he's found guilty.

Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

When Carlos Ghosn and Nissan, the company he formerly helmed, came under investigation by Japanese authorities, there was a chance that some of the allegations could lead to investigations in other parts of the world. Now, it seems, US authorities are investigating the former chairman.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into Carlos Ghosn's pay disclosures while he was the chairman of Nissan, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources familiar with the matter. Nissan gave Roadshow largely the same statement that it gave the WSJ, saying it "received an inquiry" from the SEC and is "cooperating fully." The automaker declined to comment further.

According to the sources cited in the WSJ report, the SEC investigation is apparently at an early stage, only collecting information at this point. That leaves the door open for a larger investigation if the information doesn't add up. In the first statement he gave following his arrest, Ghosn insisted that he was innocent of the charges laid out by Tokyo prosecutors.

Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November, when he was still chairman of Nissan, over allegations of financial malfeasance -- specifically, the allegation that he underreported tens of millions of dollars in compensation. Nissan also conducted an internal investigation into the matter. Eventually, Ghosn was removed as chairman of Nissan, in addition to losing his positions as CEO of Renault and chairman of Mitsubishi Motors.

In his prime, Ghosn helped forge the Renault-Nissan Alliance, a deep global partnership that would eventually grow to include Mitsubishi and become one of the largest automakers in the world. He got his start with Michelin, rising from a plant manager to CEO by the age of 36. Ghosn could face up to a decade in prison if convicted, and under Japanese law, Nissan may have to pay millions of dollars in penalties, too.

Update, 4:15 p.m. Eastern: Added manufacturer comment.