The matter weighed on him. In 2010, Mr. Kelly directed Mr. Nada to begin the first of a series of secret plans to increase Mr. Ghosn’s benefits and compensation, according to court testimonies and internal Nissan documents.
Executive pay has been a dangerous political issue in France, Mr Nada testified earlier this month, and if Mr Ghosn’s true pay had been revealed, the French government – as Renault’s main shareholder – would have urged the company to fire him .
Nada, 56, joined Nissan in 1990 as a junior legal advisor and was extremely loyal to the company. He started his career in the UK and was a senior manager until 2010.
Keeping his work for Mr Ghosn a secret, he wrote in a draft statement to prosecutors that the Times reviewed, partly because Mr Kelly convinced him that his boss was a critical bulwark in his position as head of the Alliance’s endeavor the French government that Renault accepts Nissan, its junior partner.
For eight years, Mr. Nada worked “proactively and creatively” to implement Mr. Kelly’s instructions, he told the court and made arrangements to buy and hide the amount of his remuneration worldwide for Mr. Ghosn’s personal use.
His career advanced rapidly. In the spring of 2018, as the investigation into Mr. Ghosn merged, Mr. Nada had enormous power and controlled, among other things, Nissan’s legal, compliance, security and communications departments. He was a top advisor to the then CEO Hiroto Saikawa and Mr. Ghosn.
For years, Mr. Nada had fought off questions from internal and external auditors about his work for Mr. Ghosn. In 2018, a Nissan whistleblower complained to an auditor, Hidetoshi Imazu, about travel expenses for Mr Ghosn’s family. The problem, Mr Imazu later told Nissan lawyers, spurred him on to deal with Mr Ghosn’s affairs, including one of the secret firms that Mr Nada set up to acquire real estate.