New Emails: Nissan’s Jailing Former CEO Carlos Ghosn Was A Set-Up

Based on recently leaked Nissan emails, former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s ouster and arrest was set-up by the automaker. The email trail goes back to February 2018 and it reveals an orchestrated effort to remove him and then charge him with various financial misconduct allegations. According to Bloomberg, Ghosn aide Hari Nada recommended to Nissan executives they should “neutralize his initiatives before it’s too late.”

Ghosn formed an alliance with Renault and Nissan and then later with Mitsubishi. Nissan was on the throes of bankruptcy back in 1999. After the alliance, Ghosn became the head of one of the largest auto manufacturing companies in the world.

Nissan was always looking for more autonomy from CEO Carlos Ghosn

Former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn standing next to white Nissan crossover
Former Chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Carlos Ghosn | Getty

After recovering to profitability Nissan was always looking for more autonomy from Ghosn and the alliance. But he was laying the groundwork for tighter control to take advantage of certain economies of scale. In most ways that is the only advantage for manufacturers with multiple brands.

The alliance was never a merger. The arrangement caused a lot of backroom drama and friction. One of Nissan’s issues was its lack of ability to hire its own executives. It was also looking for a way to purchase a larger stake in Renault for a possible bid to take over the alliance and call its own shots. 

Remember that Renault is partially owned by the French government. Moves that Renault wishes to make at times need approval from the country. This created another layer of oversight and was just one more thorn in the side of Nissan executives. 

Ghosn jailed for using company funds for personal use and under-reporting income was a set-up

Carlos and Caroline Ghosn at Cannes
CEO of Renault Carlos Ghosn with his wife Caroline Ghosn | Getty

A day after Nada recommended terminating the alliance agreement with Renault, Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo. He was charged with financial shenanigans including using company funds for personal use and under-reporting his income. Nada then struck a deal with Nissan to cooperate with Japanese prosecutors and testify against Ghosn.

Ghosn was released on bond and then arrested again in April 2019. Later in 2019, he was smuggled out of Japan taking refuge in his home country of Lebanon. He said he fled Japan because the charges were a set-up to strip him of his oversight of Nissan. Japan has been trying to extradite Ghosn but Lebanon and Japan have no extradition agreement and so Ghosn remains there in exile. The two Americans who helped Ghosn flee have been changed by Japan for their role but are in hiding. 

Ghosn always maintained his innocence charging Nissan with exactly what’s in these emails

Former Renault Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn in dark room looking down
Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn leaves his lawyer’s office on March 06, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. | Getty

Incredible Arrest and Escape Of Former Renault/Nissan/ Mitsubishi Head Carlos Ghosn

If all of this sounds like the script for a movie word is that it actually will become a movie once all of the issues are resolved. But with this latest email bombshell, this tale is far from over. Ghosn has always maintained his innocence charging Nissan with exactly what these emails have shown. How this will affect the continuing drama is anyone’s guess. However, it is rare for criminal charges filed by Japan to be rescinded. 

So we expect this will drag on further culminating in a trial. What the outcome of that will be is also anybody’s guess. But you won’t have to wait for the movie because this is all happening for real.