Sometimes, Hollywood’s tales of fugitives, corporate greed, and international intrigue spill into real life. And sometimes, they happen in the automotive industry. Nissan would probably like to forget its erstwhile CEO who found himself in hot water and on the lam. So, what happened to Carlos Ghosn?
Renault-Nissan’s controversial executive
Carlos Ghosn was one of the highest-paid and maybe even among the most popular automotive industry leaders. But his wealth and power while he helmed Renault-Nissan became a source of contention with board members. The scandal broke in 2017 after Ghosn won a shareholder vote, by a slim margin, regarding his 7.4-million-euro salary package.
Japanese prosecutors outlined the allegations. Ghosn — along with fellow Renault-Nissan board member Greg Kelly — conspired to under-report their earnings. According to Reuters and other news outlets, Ghosn reportedly undercut by half his $88 million in earnings over five years, based on his filings in 2010.
Allegations came, and public scandal ensued. Ghosn soon found himself detained in Japan under strict court-appointed restrictions while awaiting trial.
Escape from jail in Japan
However, Ghosn’s stay in a Japanese jail was short-lived. A French news agency reported he vanished from the facility one day and turned up in Lebanon. Ghosn is a citizen of France and Lebanon, but how he escaped remains a mystery.
Many observers believe his incredible wealth and power allowed him backdoor access to help and privileges. Business Insider reported he snuck out of Japan by stowing himself in a box of musical instruments and cargo. And two Massachusetts men accused of helping Ghosn escape were extradited to Japan for prosecution. The rabbit hole of deciphering how he got away goes on seemingly forever.
What is Carlos Ghosn doing now?
Ghosn recently resurfaced and, incredibly, gave an interview to CNBC‘s Closing Bell despite his status as an international fugitive. He’s still considered at large and protected in his Lebanon home with his wife. Interpol issued a warrant to the Lebanese government, but it’s unclear if officials will honor the warrant.
During the CNBC interview, Ghosn gave his perspective on the pandemic’s effects on the auto industry. According to him, the COVID-19 crisis has made the industry ripe for consolidation. He anticipates a global acceleration of mergers and acquisitions.
Don’t all international fugitives get book deals?
Now Ghosn is writing a book about his time leading the Japanese automaker Nissan, CNBC reported. He had been given credit for saving the company from financial ruin in its earlier years. But with that success came the wave of financial impropriety accusations and his arrest in 2018. The 66-year-old is a wanted man, but his advice may still be sound.
In the interview, he pointed out that the auto industry is hurting significantly and might take another year to recover fully. His former employer is struggling: Nissan told The New York Times it would eliminate at least 12,500 jobs by March 2023.
With refuge in Lebanon, Carlos Ghosn may have escaped immediate repercussions. But as every fictional yarn reminds us, the dynamics can change on a dime, especially with his once-$170 million fortune dwindling while he remains a fugitive, Forbes reported. However, Ghosn’s auto industry predictions might be spot on regardless of his incredible predicament.