Wednesday 15 January 2020 2:00 pm

Carlos Ghosn claims French ambassador warned him in advance of 'Nissan plot'

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has claimed the French ambassador warned him just before his November 2018 arrest that his own company was plotting against him.

“Frankly, I was shocked by the arrest and the first thing I asked is make sure Nissan knows so they can send me a lawyer,” Ghosn told Reuters in an interview in Beirut.

Read more: Carlos Ghosn lambastes Japanese government and Nissan for ‘collusion’

“And the second day, 24 hours from this, I received a visit from the French ambassador who told me: ‘Nissan is turning against you’. And this is where I realized that the whole thing was a plot.”

Former Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa told a press conference hours after Ghosn’s arrest that Ghosn had been under-reporting his income for years, and had been siphoning off corporate money for personal uses.

The French Embassy in Tokyo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nissan reiterated a previous comment, including that the car maker “discovered numerous acts of misconduct by Ghosn through a robust, thorough internal investigation. 

The company determined that he was not fit to serve as an executive, and removed him from all offices.”

It said that in addition to the Japanese prosecution, Ghosn was found to have committed “fraudulent” underreporting of his compensation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and that French authorities were investigating.

Among the practices now under the spotlight are keeping suspects in detention for long periods and excluding defense lawyers from interrogations, which can last eight hours a day.

Read more: How Nissan’s fugitive ex-boss escaped Japan

“When he told me that ‘two hours or three hours later, after your arrest, Saikawa went in a press conference and made his infamous statement where he said, you know, ‘I am horrified, but what I’m learning…’’ – so when he told me he made these statements, I said ‘Oh my God this is a plot’.”

Ghosn, 65, fled Japan last month while awaiting trial on charges of under-reporting earnings, breach of trust and misappropriation of company funds, all of which he denies.