Thursday 9 January 2020 9:50 am

Nissan executives and Japanese officials hit back at Carlos Ghosn

Former chief executive of Nissan and successor to Carlos Ghosn, Hiroto Saikawa, has slammed his former mentor’s daring escape from the authorities in Tokyo to his childhood home of Lebanon.

Ghosn fled the country late last month while awaiting trial for four charges of financial misconduct.

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

Saikawa told reporters in Tokyo today: “I feel like I have been betrayed again.”

It comes after a defiant but rambling press conference in Beirut from Ghosn yesterday in which he said the charges against him were “baseless” and vowed to clear his name.

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 Saikawa, as well as Masakazu Toyoda, an independent director at Nissan and special adviser to the Japanese cabinet.

Saikawa succeeded Ghosn as Nissan chief executive in April 2017, but it tenure was marked by a succession of woeful financial results. In July, Nissan reported a 99 per cent drop in operating profit.

Saikawa succeeded Ghosn as Nissan chief executive
Saikawa succeeded Ghosn as Nissan chief executive

Months later, Saikawa resigned as chief executive after admitting he and other top executives had been overpaid as part of a stock-related payment plan.

However, he denied any wrongdoing, and remains on the Nissan board.

Meanwhile, independent director Toyoda told reporters: “I don’t have time to deal with a one man show by someone who violated the law and escaped justice.”

Nissan and Renault declined to comment. 

Japanese officials also responded to Ghosn’s castigation of the Japanese criminal justice system.

The former Nissan boss said authorities subjected him to an “unspeakable ordeal” of “injustice … and persecution”. It was “a travesty against my human rights and dignity,” he added.

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

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Thursday that Ghosn’s claims are “one-sided and totally lack persuasion”.

Suga added that the government will “take maximum measures” to ensure “due procedure of Japan’s criminal justice will be followed.”