Wednesday 8 January 2020 5:40 pm

Carlos Ghosn lambasts Japanese government and Nissan for 'collusion'

Carlos Ghosn has accused the Japanese state and Nissan executives of instigating a co-ordinated plot against him, in an explosive first appearance since his sensational escape from Japan last month.

In a defiant but rambling press conference in Beirut, the former Nissan-Renault chairman said the charges of financial misconduct for which he had been arrested in November 2018 were “baseless”. 

He vowed to clear his name, likening his arrest to ambush of the US naval base Pearl Harbor in the second world war, and his subsequent plight to the Mission Impossible film franchise.

Here are four takeaways.

Read more: Carlos Ghosn press conference: As it happened

‘Collusion’ between Nissan and Japan

He said the Japanese government and Nissan had colluded “illegally” to oust him because of perceived interference in the firm’s alliance with Renault by the French government.

“Some of our Japanese friends thought the only way to get rid of Renault influence on Nissan is to get rid of me,” he said.

Ghosn named six former and current Nissan executives in his claims of a plot to unseat him, calling them “unscrupulous and vindictive individuals”.

Among them, he said, was Hiroto Saikawa, his successor as chief executive at the struggling car maker, and Masakazu Toyoda, an independent director at Nissan and special adviser to the Japanese cabinet.

‘Unspeakable ordeal’

His appearance, which lasted for two hours and 24 minutes, did not include details of his dramatic escape from Japan which made him one of the world’s most sought-after international fugitives.

Instead, he turned his ire on the Japanese legal system, which he said subjected him to and “unspeakable ordeal” of “injustice … and persecution”. It was “a travesty against my human rights and dignity,” he added.

He said: “I was brutally taken from my work as I knew it, ripped from my work, my family and my friends.”

“It is impossible to express the depth of that deprivation and my profound appreciation to be able to be reunited with my family and loved ones.

“[I was] interrogated for up eight hours a day without any lawyers present.”

Nissan’s missed opportunities

Ghosn’s press conference marks the latest twist in a 14-month saga that has shaken the global auto industry and jeopardised the Renault-Nissan alliance of which Ghosn was the mastermind.

He said Renault and Nissan had thrown away the “unmissable” opportunity to merge with Fiat-Chrysler, which he had been working on before his arrest.

“They said they wanted to turn the Ghosn page. Well, they have been very successful,” he said, sarcastically. “What we see today is a masquerade of an alliance … that is not going to go anywhere.”

Justice in Lebanon

Ghosn added that he was confident Lebanon would not extradite him, despite the country’s public prosecutor general summoning him for questioning while he was speaking.

That was over an alleged trip to Israel – illegal in Lebanon – in 2008.

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

“I have no assurance off anybody but … I trust the laws existing in Lebanon will be implemented.

“I am confident the existing practices and the laws will be respected in Lebanon.”

Ghosn drones on… For two hours and 24 minutes

While the former Nissan chairman’s rambling press conference went on, you could have:

Watched Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (two hours 22 minutes)
Flown from London to Warsaw (two hours 20 minutes)
Listened to the entire Hamilton The Musical soundtrack album (two hours 23 minutes)
Watched six episodes of The Simpsons (two hours 12 minutes)
Ridden the entire length of the Northern Line and back, High Barnett to Morden (two hours six minutes)