- former nissan and renault chairman carlos ghosn has been the subject of further investigations by prosecutors in japan, most recently about an alleged kickback that would have enriched the executive by $5 million.
- ghosn posted a youtube video in early april claiming he is innocent and the victim of a conspiracy. he also said his love for japan is "untainted" by the charges against him.
- ghosn is still awaiting trial.
update 8/26/19: the wall street journal reports that japanese prosecutors are investigating a kickback that carlos ghosn allegedly received as part of nissan incentive payments to an omani distributor who was also ghosn's business partner. the alleged amount is $5 million out of a total $10 million payment that, according to the journal's report, prosecutors say was made strictly for ghosn to steal. the report exposes more of ghosn's personal business deals that involved the omani distributor and his son, anthony, along with a company registered in the british virgin islands that owns a ghosn family yacht, but proof of any actual wrongdoing is still pending. ghosn is still awaiting trial, which the paper says is slated to take place in 2020.
update 4/25/19: carlos ghosn, the former chairman of nissan, renault, and mitsubishi, is out of jail again, for the second time since his initial arrest last november. he was released today by tokyo district court on $4.5 million bail. he had been in jail this time since april 4. prior to that, ghosn had been held for more than 100 days before being released on march 6 on nearly $9 million bail. the twitter feed of a wall street journal reporter based in japan displayed this candid shot of his departure today.
on april 9, in his first direct public announcement since tokyo police arrested him in november, carlos ghosn declared his innocence against a backdrop of conspiracy, mismanagement, and selfishness of his former board members at nissan. the former chairman of nissan, renault, and mitsubishi posted a video on youtube early tuesday after police arrested him before he was due for a hearing on thursday.
"the first message is i'm innocent," said a clean-shaven ghosn in a white-collared shirt and blue blazer. "i'm also innocent of all the accusations that came around these charges that are all biased, taken out of context, twisted in a way to paint a personage of greed, and a personage of dictatorship."
ghosn was finally granted a $9 million bail in early march and had been out of jail for almost a full month before police raided his tokyo home last week and arrested him for the fourth time. under japanese law, prosecutors can continue to pile charges in order to re-arrest suspects and detain them indefinitely until they confess or until a trial is set. he has made previous statements at court appearances and to specific media outlets, but today's video was his first statement on camera for all to see.
"i spent 108 days in prison because i've been always consistent with this position that i was innocent of all the charges," he said.
ghosn referenced khaled al juffali, shinsei bank, and the financial institution letters which nissan has alleged ghosn used to funnel money to the saudi arabian businessman to cover a personal debt. ghosn has said that the payments to juffali were for legitimate business purposes for helping nissan fix a dispute with a local distributor and for opening a bank contract to convert his salary from yen to u.s. dollars to avoid currency swings. the total is a reported $14.7 million between 2009 and 2012.
"this is about a plot. this is about conspiracy. this is about backstabbing, that's what we're talking about," he said, without naming anyone.
ghosn said that certain nissan executives feared a stronger renault-nissan-mitsubishi alliance—which he had been pushing, as renault owns 43 percent of nissan—would cause nissan to lose independence and essentially threaten their own jobs. internally, he said, some people had thought of him as a dictator as he sought to grow the alliance and drive down costs.
"for people who say there is only two options, consensus or dictatorship, that means they don't know what leadership is about, and this is very sad," he said.
ghosn said nissan's current performance, referencing an emissions scandal in japan and recent warnings of lower company profits, had "degraded" and that now, he didn't think there was "any vision for the alliance being built."
"i've been the fiercest defender of the autonomy of nissan," he said. "but this autonomy must be based on performance. nobody gets autonomy for the sake of autonomy."
however, ghosn remained upbeat about japan and the japanese automaker he used to work for. he said despite the charges, his appreciation for the country was "untainted" despite people "who really played a very dirty game" against him.
"i love japan, and i love nissan. nobody spends 20 years in a country, nobody works 20 years in the leadership of a company without love and without attachment and without engagement," he said. "i came to japan in 1999 not by calculation. i came to japan in 1999 because i was fascinated by the country and i was fascinated by the challenge of reviving nissan."
ghosn has been formally charged with making false disclosures on nissan's corporate financial statements—specifically, that he omitted tens of millions of dollars of his income from nissan's public filings—along with breach of trust for using company money for personal use, among additional charges. additional allegations that ghosn used nissan money to buy luxury homes in beirut and paris and that an oman distributor helped him buy a yacht have swirled before his trial date, which is not even set.
"my biggest wish is to have a fair trial," he said.