Renault Pay Probe Said to Reveal Ex-Manager's Hefty Exit Package

(Bloomberg) -- The scrutiny over the pay of Renault SA’s top managers following the arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn has turned up a substantial exit package for one senior executive.

Marie-Francoise Damesin, who ran human resources until August, is receiving hefty payments for agreeing not to compete with the carmaker after leaving the position, people familiar with the matter said. French newspaper Canard Enchaine reported that she was getting more than 72,000 euros ($80,000) a month, just related to the pact.

The arrangement is likely to be reviewed by the audit committee of Renault’s board Monday, two people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential matters. A spokesman for Renault declined to comment, while Damesin didn’t respond to requests for comment. It’s not clear whether any action will be taken regarding the payments, the people said.

Renault and Nissan Motor Co. are reviewing their finances and the pay of top managers in the wake of Ghosn’s arrest in November on charges of under-reporting his income and breach of trust while at Nissan. The automakers also began a joint audit of the Dutch company that oversees their auto-making alliance. The probes already turned up some controversial practices from Ghosn’s tenure at Renault, including celebrations at the Versailles palace outside Paris.

The audit and remuneration committees of Renault’s board will meet Monday to discuss Ghosn’s compensation for 2018, the pay of his successors, and the findings of the ongoing probes, people familiar with the matter said.

Fabien Gache, a CGT union representative at Renault, said the union will ask that a detailed summary of those findings be shared with each board member. CGT has one representative on the board. “We can’t just say that the audits are over and move on,” Gache said.

Ghosn was released on bail Wednesday after more than three months in a Tokyo prison. Gaining his liberty will allow him more time to prepare his legal defense for a trial that may be several months away, and to defend himself in the court of public opinion. He has denied wrongdoing.

Nissan has also accused Ghosn, its former chairman, of getting improper payments from a joint venture with alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp. A joint investigation by the two Japanese carmakers found that Ghosn entered into a personal employment contract with Nissan-Mitsubishi BV -- an equally owned venture established in 2017 in the Netherlands -- and received 7.8 million euros from the entity.

Read More: Ghosn Got Improper Payment From Dutch Venture, Nissan Says

Until after his arrest, the former auto industry luminary was chairman and chief executive officer of Renault, chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, and head of their alliance.

Damesin was 61 when she left her post, and will officially step down on March 31, the Canard reported. In the meantime, she’s been receiving her monthly salary of 45,000 euros as well as 72,212 euros a month from the non-compete pact, the paper said. A spokesman for the company told the Canard the payments are a mistake that will be fixed, without elaborating.

Damesin had been part of Renault’s executive committee since 2011 and was also responsible for human relations at the Renault-Nissan alliance. As such, she oversaw headcount reductions at the French automaker.

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