The wild story surrounding Carlos Ghosn, the former head of the three-way alliance of car manufacturers Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi, is entering its next chapter. The 69-year-old ex-CEO is suing Nissan for more than $1 billion, according to news coming out of Lebanon.
A lawsuit was filed with the Lebanese public prosecutor’s office last month, and accuses Nissan, along with two other companies and 12 named individuals, of having committed defamation, slander, and falsification of evidence. It’s the next escalation in a drama truly worthy of being turned into a Hollywood movie.
The high-flying executive had once forged the alliance between the three carmakers, and was considered one of the most influential auto industry bosses in the world. His arrest in Japan at the end of 2018 caused an uproar, and his escape from the country—hidden in a box and smuggled onboard a private jet—left local officials angry and with plenty of eggs on their faces.
He has been living in his homeland of Lebanon ever since, where he is reasonably safe from extradition and the trial in Japan. Since his arrival back home, he has repeatedly protested his innocence in public appearances, and made sharp allegations against the Japanese judicial authorities, who are still investigating him to this day.
He claims that the serious allegations against him will be remembered by people for a long time, and he will therefore suffer from them for the rest of his life—even if he hasn’t been found guilty of anything
Allegations against Ghosn include embezzlement, misappropriation of company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws by not fully disclosing his compensation. Nissan has also filed a civil lawsuit for damages against the ex-manager in a court in Yokohama, while the Renault group has repeatedly distanced itself from Ghosn.
In the spring of last year, France’s judiciary issued an international arrest warrant against the former boss, who fled to Lebanon, a country with no extradition treaty with France or Japan. In his own lawsuit, he claims that the serious allegations against him will be remembered by people for a long time, and he will therefore suffer from them for the rest of his life—even if he hasn’t been found guilty of anything. Ghosn is seeking $588 million in lost compensation and costs, and $500 million in penalties as part of the legal action.
Ghosn is currently stuck in the country as there’s an Interpol red notice out for him, and leaving Lebanon would put him at risk of arrest and extradition to Japan. He’s on record as saying that he will fight to the end to repair his reputation, and that he is serious about his legal action.
Lebanese authorities seem to have scheduled a court date for September, and if proceedings go in his favor, then at least, in theory, it would be possible for local assets belonging to the accused firm to be used to pay any amount due him. If Nissan will send lawyers to represent the firm or how it will all pan out, only time will tell.