Carlos Ghosn launched a searing attack on the current management of Nissan, accusing its top executives of abject leadership failure, “back-stabbing” and engineering a “dirty game” to bring him down.
The former Nissan chairman delivered his seven-minute attack through a video that had been recorded in the hours before Mr Ghosn’s apartment in Tokyo was raided by prosecutors last week and he was arrested for the fourth time.
Mr Ghosn, who is now in detention, said in the video that his arrest was the result of a conspiracy by executives at the Japanese carmaker who feared that the company would lose its autonomy as he pushed for deeper integration with Renault, its alliance partner of 20 years. The fear was unwarranted, the former chairman said, describing himself as “the fiercest defender of the autonomy of Nissan”.
The performance of Nissan after he stepped down as chief executive in 2017 had been “absolutely mediocre” while the management lacked vision to enhance the company and the alliance, he added.
“I’m talking here about a few executives, who obviously for their own interest and for their own selfish fears, are creating a lot of value destruction,” Mr Ghosn said. “Obviously for someone like me, it’s sickening. I’m worried because I don’t think there is any vision for the alliance being built.”
Nissan has underperformed against its rivals over the past year, but current chief Hiroto Saikawa and analysts have blamed the poor results on a Ghosn-era expansion policy in the US that backfired.
Facing the camera in a dark suit and white shirt, Mr Ghosn delivered his address in the unapologetic, rapid-fire mode for which he was known throughout the global auto industry.
“This is not about greed. This is not about dictatorship,” Mr Ghosn said, referring to accusations levelled at him in a governance report published by Nissan last month. “This is about a plot. This is about conspiracy. This is about back-stabbing.”
Mr Ghosn made no specific reference to the allegations that led to his most recent arrest, despite the combative rhetoric of the video and a plea for a fair trial.
The release of the video comes after Mr Ghosn opened a Twitter account ahead of his most recent arrest, promising to “tell the truth” at a press conference on April 11. The edited version of the video, however, had removed names of individuals the former Nissan boss deemed were at the centre of the “conspiracy”.
Mr Ghosn has consistently denied all allegations.
The video did not include any fresh revelations regarding the charges against Mr Ghosn.
Junichiro Hironaka, Mr Ghosn’s lawyer, said the decision was made to avoid the risk of addressing allegations before the prosecutors had laid out their case in court. “We will fight back once the trial begins,” Mr Hironaka said.
The rearrest related to allegations that Mr Ghosn devised a mechanism whereby a proportion of payments made by a Nissan subsidiary to an Omani dealer found their way into expenditure that directly benefited the former chairman and his family.
The former boss of Nissan and Renault was originally arrested on November 19 and spent 108 days in detention before being released on bail a month ago. The three previous charges related to understating his salary in the company’s financial reports and breach of trust.
Nissan has said its own investigation had uncovered “substantial evidence of blatantly unethical conduct” that had resulted in a unanimous board vote to discharge Mr Ghosn as chairman. The company has also said its investigation was unrelated to Mr Ghosn’s merger plans.
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