Fugitive ex-Nissan boss rants at “Pearl Harbor” plot against him
Talk about burning your bridges. Nissan’s former CEO, one-time hero of Japan and now-international fugitive Carlos Ghosn has accused Nissan and the Japanese government of plotting against him, in his first press conference since he escaped the country and fled to Lebanon.
Now a wanted man following an Interpol arrest warrant that was issued earlier this month, Ghosn said there was “collusion” between Nissan and Japanese prosecutors, which led to charges of financial misconduct being filed against him. Addressing the press today, he said the allegations were untrue, and suggested that those plotting his downfall wanted to remove Renault’s influence over Nissan (the two firms are partners in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance).
He also said his arrest was a surprise to him, and compared to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II, which is unlikely to go down well in Japan.
"I didn't suspect anything," he said. "Some people asked me 'you didn't look at this, you didn't mention this, you didn't suspect this?' And I say 'what happened in Pearl Harbour? Did you see Pearl Harbour happen?'"
Ghosn said he would not have received a fair trial, and added that he left Japan to flee “injustice and persecution”.
“You’re going to die in Japan or you have to get out,” he said, but stressed: “I'm not above the law and I welcome the opportunity for the truth to come out and have my name cleared”.
Once one of the most powerful people in the automotive industry, Ghosn has become a headline writer’s dream since his arrest in 2018, under four charges of financial misconduct while in charge of Nissan.
He skipped bail in Japan in December, apparently orchestrating a plot to smuggle himself in a musical instrument case following a performance, and was flown to Turkey by private jet before transferring to Beirut. Lebanon does not have an extradition agreement with Japan, although Ghosn faces more trouble in the country, as lawyers there are accusing him of deals with Israel, which are illegal in Lebanon. While Ghosn was speaking to the media, Lebanon’s top prosecutor called him in for questioning on Thursday (9 January).
Place your bets now about when this drama becomes a movie. Ghosn denied to the media that he’d already signed a Netflix deal, but in the meantime, why not read his own account of how he turned Nissan around? He wrote a book about it, and everything.