They might have come to the fore in 2018, but the US SEC says Nissan's financial troubles began in 2004 when it granted Carlos Ghosn, its then-CEO, the authority to set executive compensation – including his own.
The commission believes between 2009 and his arrest in 2018, Ghosn "with substantial assistance from [director Greg] Kelly and subordinates at Nissan" hid US$90 million ($133 million) in pay from official filings, and increase Ghosn's retirement bonus by US$50 million ($74 million).
Techniques used by Ghosn and his co-accused include secret contracts and revised calculations, as well backdated letters to increase his stake in the automaker's long-term incentive plan.
None of the US$140 million in hidden pay was ever paid out to Ghosn.
As part of the settlement with the SEC, Nissan will pay a US$15 million ($22.2 million) civil penalty, and has agreed to "cease and desist from committing or causing violations of the [SEC's] anti-fraud provisions".
Ghosn, who is currently free on bail and awaiting trial in Japan, will pay a US$1 million ($1.5 million) fine, and is barred from being a director or officer in a company for 10 years.
Kelly, also awaiting trial in Japan, will need to cough up US$100,000 ($148,000). He is banned from being a company director or officer for five years, and is also prevented from acting as an attorney in front the SEC for five years.
All parties settled "without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations and findings".