Carlos Ghosn is ready to name names—not to take revenge on those who betrayed him, they say, but to clear his name. He insisted that the alleged financial mess had nothing to do with his downfall. The reason for his arrest was the fear of Japanese authorities handing over corporate power to France.
Who did the former head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, now an internationally wanted fugitive, speak to? newsweek While promoting his new book “Broken Alliance: Inside the Rise and Fall of a Global Automotive Empire” from his home in Lebanon last week. This book is an account of his extraordinarily successful career – and the “conspiracy” that ended it, leading to his arrest by Japanese authorities on November 19, 2018.
As he had done hundreds of times before, the then CEO of Nissan Motor Company landed at Nagoya Airport on a private jet. Japan’s Public Prosecutor’s Office arrested him on charges of financial mismanagement and misreporting millions of dollars in income. The global shock of that incident surpassed 13 months after he escaped from detention in Tokyo, despite 24-hour surveillance.
The “Broken Alliance” marks the first time Ghosn has delved deep into the key executives at Nissan who, in his eyes, engineered his downfall. Christina Murray, former Nissan vice president and chief internal audit and global compliance officer, spent time digging up the dirt on Ghosn from her closest colleagues and coworkers, Ghosn writes. He also links now-retired 43-year-old Nissan executive Hitoshi Kawaguchi to his ouster.
He states that the authorities worked with the Japanese government as a reason for his arrest. newsweek. “I think the plot was organized by some people … what I call the ‘Old Boys’, meaning people who stayed with the company and were still nostalgic about the time the company struggled before 1999. was doing,” Ghosn says.
During his time behind bars, Ghosn writes, he was mentored by two lawyers. The first encouraged her to speak out against what was happening, which appeared to anger the prosecutor’s office and the judge. After the first lawyer was fired, Ghosn’s new lawyer advised him to keep his mouth shut. When Ghosn was released on bail following his third request, he tweeted, threatening to “tell the truth” about his treatment. Shortly after, he was arrested again on new charges. It was only after he fled to Lebanon that he was able to truly tell his side of the story, he says. (The new book does not detail his escape from Japanese custody.)
He also recalls the harsh treatment meted out to him in a Japanese prison, describing himself as a “hostage”. in talking to newsweekHowever, Ghosn expressed an enduring affection for Japan and described his life to the present day.
Looking back, Ghosn saw a pivotal moment in June 2018, when he accepted a new mandate from Renault, expanding his power over the alliance, with the mission to further develop the company and merge assets. “The new mandate that Renault insists I take was, clearly, a mistake,” says Ghosn. “I was, you know, under the impression that there was a kind of unity for me to continue with the work that I had been doing for 19 years. But, obviously the Japanese didn’t look at it from the same angle.
Describing the feelings of the so-called old boys, he says, “there was a fear of loss of autonomy.” “These people, who have always been in the company and I have retained in the company … I wanted to hear their opinion and see how we could avoid their criticism. These people colluded with the prosecutor, who Anything, quite frankly, I could never have imagined, with the support of the part of the Japanese government.”
Ghosn’s arrest was not just a commercial problem. They say it was an international incident, an issue that the French government made very clear to them. “I was arrested four months after I was reappointed as CEO of Renault and, as you know, Renault did not defend me,” says Ghosn. “After a couple of weeks of conjecture they let me and the French President and the French Minister of Finance, he said, you know, relations between Japan and France are more important than the fate of any deal, which means, you know, [I was] collateral damage.”
Ghosn characterized the attitude of the French authorities: “We do not accept the coup that has been carried out by the Japanese authorities. But, we do not want to make things worse so we act as if it is only between me and me.” There’s a legal problem. Japanese authorities, except entirely for the fact that when I was going to Japan, I wasn’t going to be a Brazilian tourist or a Lebanese analyst: I was a French citizen as CEO of a major French company was leaving and the major French were interested.”
It was four days from Ghosn’s arrest until he could consult a lawyer—an interval that Ghosn described as always being the most well-prepared person in any meeting he worked with. As described, still struggles to explain.
“You know, in the beginning I didn’t understand the allegation,” he said. “I have had the Tokyo prosecutor tell me that I’m being arrested because I didn’t announce compensation that was neither settled nor paid. I don’t understand why you can give someone that How to arrest for something which was not the object of judgment or even payment.
“It took me some time to realize that, in fact, it was a conspiracy and that some people inside Nissan were working with the prosecutor, with the Ministry of Industry of Japan, and certainly others in the government of Japan. We’re working to get the system out.”
Ghosn’s chosen successor, Hiroto Saikawa, quickly insisted on his arrest—but not to support him. “I understood very clearly because of the statements made by Siakawa shortly after my arrest and he said it was time to rebalance relations with Renault,” says Ghosn. “So, it was not about compensation that was not announced. It was about rebalancing relations with Renault, taking more autonomy on the Japanese side and the Japanese sending a message to the French saying that ‘Stop, that is enough.'”
Ghosn believes the goal was to silence him.
“I couldn’t talk after being arrested in November 2018,” he says. “When I was in jail I couldn’t talk. When I was released on bail I tried to call a press conference, to avoid this press conference I was immediately arrested again. After being freed the chief prosecutor said, you know, ‘Mr. Ghosn is free to hold a press conference but we are also free to press charges,’ so it was very clear that he had taken a character soon after my arrest. Has staged a campaign of assassination and they want to be the only one to speak up.”
The prosecutor’s office was expecting him to wait, he says. “They didn’t want anyone to counter the flood of accusations… I couldn’t open my mouth and, quite frankly, they calculated that they could stage this campaign, manage public opinion.” Because they knew that I would be in Japan for a very long time and I would be under their control for a very long time.
“I don’t think any of them imagined a moment that I would leave Japan. I don’t think it was even one of those hypotheses that they had, so their plan was, it was going to take many, many years. Judge him, then we’re going to judge him. Then after 10 to 15 years everyone forgets about him and he can’t talk because he’s in Japan.”
Ghosn’s 130-day prison term has been called “fundamentally unfair” by the UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Citing Ghosn’s experience as its prime example, Human Rights Watch World Report 2020 described Japan’s “hostage” justice system as “long-overlooked”, adding that “criminal suspects have long The harsh conditions are kept for a long time to compel a confession.”
Ghosn does not see him as an isolated case. “I am sure that if we can confirm all the human rights violations that are taking place in Japan, the European Community would never have signed a free trade agreement with Japan,” he says.
“So, this is where, really, the Japanese should be more clear. The country is free to say, ‘Look, we don’t want to respect human rights,’ and there are many countries that say, ‘We don’t respect human rights.’ You don’t want to take advantage of respecting and respecting human rights. This is something that should be condemned and it is something the Japanese have to be more responsible for.
“When you go to China you know the rules. You know what you can and can’t do. So it’s clear that there are no traps. There is no double game. In Japan, they tell you think [they have] a kind of very democratic or open [system], but it’s not like that.”
Racism and nationalism contributed to his downfall, explains Ghosn newsweek. “I always felt, even though I was one of the most popular figures in Japan, that there was a part of the Japanese public that didn’t like me just because I was a foreigner. And especially didn’t like me because Not only was I a foreigner, I was a popular foreigner and a foreigner who has some power over one of the major Japanese companies. I could feel it. I could see that, which is fine. It was fine.
“But when I started looking at the scandals happening in Japan, where in the case of the Fukushima scandal, in the case of the Takata scandal… in the case of the Olympus scandal, in the case of the Toshiba scandal, there was a single Japanese executive in the Hatachi scandal. against whom the charges were leveled. I say ‘Oh my god, there’s something wrong here. It’s impossible we can’t find one’ [Japanese] The person responsible for what is happening.'”
Ghosn still expresses affection for the Land of the Rising Sun. “Me and my family—we love Japan and love Japan. We love culture, we love food, we love organization, we love art, we love simplicity We love so many things about Japan.
“We are not rejecting Japan at all. We are condemning the old, dark forces out there…