Auto dealer that may have ties to ousted Nissan chairman buys Carson dealership

Trophy Automotive bought the Kia dealership with the the highest sales volume in the country
By Dennis Lynch |
Research by Haru Coryne
May 07, 2019 02:00PM

Nasser Watar and Kia of Carson

Nasser Watar and Kia of Carson

A Southern California auto dealership with possible ties to the scandal surrounding former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn is still making real estate moves.

Glendale-based Trophy Automotive Dealer Group has purchased a Kia dealership at 22020 Recreation Road in Carson for $29 million, property records show. The deal has been pending since last August, but has now closed.

Auto Remarketing, a trade publication, called the 72,000-square-foot Kia of Carson facility “state of the art,” when reporting on the pending deal last year. It was built in 2017 and was the Kia dealership with the highest sales volume in the U.S. as of last summer, according to the firm that sold it to Trophy.

Trophy could not be immediately reached for comment.

Nissan Motor Company said in January it was reviewing Trophy because CEO Nasser Watar is a business partner of Sheikh Khaled Al Juffali, who Japanese prosecutors allege played a part in a Ghosn scheme to shift personal debts over to Nissan.

Watar and Al Juffali jointly run Al-Dahana, a Middle East auto seller and distributor that owns Nissan Gulf, a regional distributor for Nissan and Infiniti in the Middle East, according to Automotive News. Al Juffali has no direct business relationship with Trophy.

Nissan’s internal investigators are looking into the circumstances of Nissan’s franchise award to Trophy for possible connections to the alleged Al Juffali-Ghosn deal. Trophy owns six dealerships in Southern California selling a variety of Nissan, Kia, and Mercedes-Benz cars, according to Automotive News, a trade magazine.

Trophy has maintained that it has no connection to the larger scandal. Ghosn and Al Juffali also maintain their innocence.

Ghosn’s allege deal with Al Juffali is the subject of one of three indictments Ghosn faces in Japan. Ghosn allegedly had $14.7 million transferred from a Nissan executive account over to Al Juffali in exchange for financial assistance during the global financial crisis.

The $29-million-dollar sale of the Carson property is on par with what car dealerships having been trading for in greater Los Angeles of late. Three West Covina dealerships owned by former Penske Automotive Group president Roger Penske, Jr., sold in February for a combined $61.2 million. Lithia Motors closed a $150 million purchase of eight Downtown dealerships in 2017.