The case of Carlos Ghosn PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 06 December 2018 13:48

By Remedios F. Marmoleño

 

The name Carlos Ghosn is not a name people are familiar with, as they are with say, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg or Warren Buffet. These latter names come up often in stories about corporate America.

Ghosn is not the CEO of an American corporation but he headed a company (or companies?) big enough to have his name land in the front page of international print media when his case came up. Ghosn is the CEO of Nissan and of Renault. Nissan is a Japanese car company and  Renault is a French car company. This is something that I don’t understand fully but you may want to google this yourself.

Ghosn’s name came up when his arrest was ordered by the Japanese government for what was called “questionable financial transactions”. Following reports over several days I finally came to understand what the “questionable financial transactions” were all about.

There was the matter of underreporting his compensation from Nissan and from Renault and which would affect the personal income tax he would be paying to the government. There was the matter of vacation homes in Brazil and Lebanon which the company bought for him for several millions and which were given to him without charging him for these homes. And there were the vacations he took with his family and for which the company paid. One news report said that Ghosn did not seem to draw a line between what was personal and what was company expense. It is this matter that tickled my interest in this case of Carlos Ghosn.

I am convinced more than ever that other countries, say Japan, are stricter compared to the Philippines on how the laws are applied regardless of one’s position in the political and social hi  erarchies of the country.

Let us play an “imagine game”. Let us take PLDT as an example of a big corporation in the Philippines. And let us imagine that the CEO or Chair of PLDT has been playing around with how he has reported his compensation from his company. Let us imagine that someone in BIR has been more fastidious than usual in examining tax returns and has come across some questionable claims in the tax return. Would such an individual report his/her findings to the decision-makers in the agency? If such a report is made, would the decision-makers take steps to come to the bottom of the report and explain if it complies with requirements?

If the report does not comply, would the agency go after the corporate honcho for an explanation? If the explanation is not acceptable, would the agency go after the corporate honcho the way the Japanese government went after Carlos Ghosn? Think about this and you would have an idea of what has been going on in my mind since reading about the Carlos Ghosn case.