Carlos Ghosn says 'story is far from finished' as he hits back at Nissan

Former automotive boss, who escaped from Japan while awaiting trial, tells The National: ‘This is the beginning of my fightback’

Carlos Ghosn calls for 'punishment' after filing $1 billion lawsuit against Nissan

Carlos Ghosn calls for 'punishment' after filing $1 billion lawsuit against Nissan
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Carlos Ghosn has insisted that “the story is far from finished” as he launched his fightback with a $1 billion lawsuit against automobile giant Nissan, the company he used to chair.

He said the alleged crimes that Nissan and 12 people named in the lawsuit lodged in Lebanon had committed could not go unpunished.

The lawsuit, which seeks $588 million in lost salary and another $500 million in moral damage, accuses them, among other things, of defamation, violating the sanctity of his residence and fabricating charges that led to his detention in Japan.

“This is the beginning of my fightback. I'm not finished with this. This is a big step,” he told The National in Beirut, where he has been based since December 2019 after he was famously smuggled out of Japan in a musical instrument box as he awaited trial.

“This is the first step and this first step we have evidence, facts … but there is much more to it. The story is far from finished,” said Mr Ghosn, 69, who has Lebanese, Brazilian and French citizenship.

Asked what his next move could be, he said: “Let’s concentrate on this first step today. Let’s make sure we win the case.”

The industry giant, who also chaired Mitsubishi and Renault, was arrested in Japan in November 2018 amid allegations he under-reported his earnings and misappropriated company funds.

Mr Ghosn vehemently rejects the charges, claiming they were part of a conspiracy to remove him from his position. He accused the Japanese justice system of being rigged.

The UN Human Rights Council said his more than 100-day detention was arbitrary and unlawful.

Taking into account all circumstances, the appropriate remedy would be to "accord Mr Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law”, it said.

Mr Ghosn said,"I repeat it again, it's important. The experts for the United Nations - you cannot suspect them of being biassed - they said this arrest was arbitrary, it violated all the human rights.

"There must be an investigation about what happened and compensation should be paid to him for what you've done to him. This is not me or my lawyer."

Nissan has not commented since the lawsuit was issued.

Asked about the timing of the lawsuit, which The National has viewed a copy of, Mr Ghosn said it had taken years and a lot of hard work in order to gather the facts.

“When the plot started and I was arrested in Japan, they cut me from everything," he said.

"They took my phone, my computer, my documents. They invaded all my homes in different countries, including Lebanon, illegally.

“Now that I have facts and evidence, I’m presenting those.”

Mr Ghosn had strong words for Japanese firm Nissan, the fortunes of which he is credited with turning around during his 20-year tenure.

“I made it one of the jewels of the industry in Japan,” he said.

Mr Ghosn has been unable to leave Lebanon since Japan issued an Interpol Red Notice against him after he was smuggled out in a private jet while on bail. Lebanon does not extradite its citizens. He also faces charges in France.

He claimed that “there is no more spirit, there is no more vision, there is no more ambition” at Nissan. He said that from the day he was arrested, "for me Nissan disappeared from the map".

Mr Ghosn said the accusations levied against him by the company and the raiding of his homes “is for me more than an insult”.

“This is like 'we don't care about everything you've done for this company for 20 years, we just want you out for a reason which has nothing to do with the interest of the company'," he said.

"Shareholders lost a lot. Employees lost a lot, the brand lost a lot. It's too much.

“You cannot let this kind of behaviour [go] without being punished. And the people who did that, at least those who we are naming in this lawsuit, they cannot continue to sleep quietly in Tokyo — or wherever they are — after they committed so many crimes against the interests of the company which is employing them.”

Updated: June 23, 2023, 10:37 AM