Nissan board members looked set to oust disgraced tycoon Carlos Ghosn as chairman Thursday, after his spectacular arrest for financial misconduct sent shockwaves through the auto industry and the business world.
Ghosn stands accused of under-reporting his income by millions of dollars and a host of other financial irregularities, alleged after a months-long internal Nissan probe following a whistleblower report.
NHK said the seven-member board had voted unanimously to dismiss Ghosn, who is credited with saving the carmaker from bankruptcy when he took over nearly two decades ago and forging a successful alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors.
It was unclear whether another top executive accused by the company of facilitating the alleged wrongdoing, Greg Kelly, was also fired.
The vote by Nissan's board on Thursday ends Ghosn's reign at the top of the company dating back almost two decades and could fracture a powerful alliance that he forged with Renault.
A Nissan Motor Co spokesman declined to comment on the reports.
Mitsubishi indicated it would sack Mr Ghosn as chairman at a board meeting next week.
Ghosn had been exploring a deeper Renault-Nissan tie-up that was resisted by the Japanese firm - a fact which has fueled speculation about ulterior motives for his arrest.
Nissan was yet to release an official statement with news on developments at the board meeting.
Renault has refrained from firing Mr Ghosn as chairman and chief executive, but Mitsubishi plans to remove Mr Ghosn from his post. He became chief executive of Renault in 2005, leading the two automakers simultaneously.
Seven board members will vote on the motion to dismiss Ghosn, which needs to be carried by a simple majority.
The official spoke after French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire met with Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko to discuss the Renault-Nissan alliance at the Bercy Finance Ministry in Paris on Thursday afternoon.
Nissan is 43.4 percent-owned by Renault.
The arrest has sparked questions over whether the alliance of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors can survive without Ghosn, seen as the glue holding together his fractious creation, which globally employs around 450,000 people.
With today's decision by the board, the only remaining representative director at Nissan is CEO Hiroto Saikawa.
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's biggest-circulation daily, cited unnamed sources as saying Nissan's internal investigation found that Mr Ghosn had since 2002 instructed that about US$100,000 a year be paid to his elder sister as remuneration for a non-existent advisory role.
Tokyo prosecutors say Ghosn is suspected of under-reporting $44.6 million in income from 2011 to 2015.
Shin Kukimoto, a deputy public prosecutor at the Tokyo district public prosecutors office, refused to comment Thursday on whether Ghosn, who has yet to be charged, had admitted to the allegations.
Nissan said its board will study setting up a third-party committee to beef up governance in management and compensation at Nissan.
The partnership remains crucial for both companies, she said, since apart from financial ties the companies share technology and parts.
"There is everything you need, heating, a bed but conditions are spartan", said Kanezuka's colleague Lionel Vincent.