FORMER Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn today accused executives at the Japanese car giant of a ‘conspiracy’ that led to his arrest on financial misconduct allegations.
Ghosn spoke calmly as he maintained his innocence in a 10-minute video released by his legal team at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo.
His lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, said the video was prepared in case Ghosn wasn’t able to speak at a news conference. Ghosn was rearrested last week while on bail.
The 65-year-old former boss of the manufacturer said the executives behind the conspiracy were motivated by what he called ‘selfish fears’ and had mistaken his leadership for greed and dictatorship.
Nissan has said he initiated financial misconduct it later uncovered and used the company’s money for personal gain.
Ghosn said in the video: ‘The first message is that I’m innocent. ‘This is a conspiracy. This is not about specific events, this is not about, again, greed, this is not about dictatorship. This is about a plot. This is about conspiracy. This is about backstabbing.’
Ghosn said the executives behind the conspiracy were concerned about what they saw as a merger with French alliance partner Renault SA, adding that he had been the biggest defender of Nissan’s autonomy.
He also said he was worried about Nissan, wondering whether those executives involved were really watching out for the company.
Hironaka said a section of the video in which Ghosn named names was removed on his advice.
Nissan, while declining to comment on the criminal case, has said an internal investigation found that Ghosn falsified financial documents to under-report compensation, and that he used Nissan money for personal gain.
Ghosn’s fourth arrest was on a fresh breach-of-trust allegation based on suspicions that payments from a Nissan subsidiary to an Oman dealership were diverted to a company effectively run by Ghosn.
Yesterday, as reported by Car Dealer Magazine, Nissan shareholders voted to oust Ghosn from the board and to approve the appointment of French alliance partner Renault SA’s chairman Jean-Dominique Senard as his replacement.
Renault owns 43 per cent of of the company, which makes the Leaf electric car, March subcompact and Infiniti luxury models, and was on the brink of bankruptcy when Renault sent him in to turn it around two decades ago.
Ghosn stressed he had devoted 20 years to Nissan, and is worried about its future.
‘I love Japan and I love Nissan,’ he said in his video, adding the company had achieved much under his leadership. He appeared to be saying he was the best leader for Nissan, while those behind the alleged conspiracy were failing.
‘It’s sad. For someone like me, it’s sickening,’ he said.
Hironaka said he would appeal against Ghosn’s latest arrest and detention. Multiple arrests and prolonged detentions are routine in Japan’s criminal justice system, but an arrest after someone is released on bail is unusual.
Prosecutors say the latest allegation is different and there is a risk Ghosn may tamper with evidence. His defence team says the allegations are related, and authorities have already seized all the documents.
Asked for a comment on Ghosn’s video, company spokesman Nicholas Maxfield said: ‘Nissan’s internal investigation has uncovered substantial evidence of blatantly unethical conduct. ‘The company’s focus remains on addressing weaknesses in governance that enabled this misconduct.’
No date has been set for Ghosn’s trial as yet.