Internal correspondence from within Nissan gives some credence to Carlos Ghosn’s claims that he was set up prior to being arrested in Japan in late 2018 for alleged financial misconduct.
Nissan has long claimed that it ousted Ghosn following allegations of underreporting his income and other financial transgressions filed by Japanese prosecutors. However, bombshell documents reveal top executives from the automaker led a campaign to dethrone Ghosn from his role at the top of the alliance.
Bloomberg reports that senior managers at Nissan expressed their concern about Ghosn’s pledge in early 2018 to strengthen the alliance between Nissan and Renault and to make it irreversible.
The man who ran Nissan chief executive’s office before agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors to testify against Ghosn, Hari Nada, initially told senior manager at Nissan responsible for government relations, Hitoshi Kawaguchi, that Nissan should act to “neutralize [Ghosn’s] initiatives before it’s too late.”
The day before Ghosn was arrested on a private jet at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on November 18, 2018, Nada circulated a memo to then-chief executive Hiroto Saikawa calling for the termination of the agreement governing the alliance and the restoration of Nissan’s right to buy shares in Renault, or even take it over. He also pushed for Nissan’s ability to abolish Renault’s right to nominate Nissan’s chief operating officer or other more senior positions.
Also prior to Ghosn’s arrest, Nada sought to broaden the allegations against Ghosn, telling Saikawa that the automaker should push for breach-of-trust charges on the belief it would be harder to explain the initial allegations of underreporting compensation to the public.
This effort was to be “supported by media campaign for insurance of destroying CG [Carlos Ghosn’s] reputation hard enough,” Nada wrote in an internal communication. When asked to comment on the story, Saikawa rejected the existence of a plot to oust Ghosn, saying “there was no effort to remove Renault’s influence” by removing Ghosn.
Saikawa stepped down as chief executive in September last year after a Nissan investigation found he had been paid excess compensation. Nada, among other executives, was also overpaid.
Ghosn fled from Japan in late 2019 and has been living in Beirut, Lebanon ever since. He maintains his innocence and due to the lack of an extradition treaty between Japan and Lebanon, is unlikely to face a Japanese courtroom.