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Carlos Ghosn hits out at Nissan and Japan

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn attends a news conference at the Lebanese Press Syndicate in Beirut, Lebanon January 8, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn attends a news conference at the Lebanese Press Syndicate in Beirut, Lebanon January 8, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Parries questions on escape; Tokyo prosecutor says ex-Nissan boss’ allegations are unacceptable

Carlos Ghosn, speaking publicly for the first since his dramatic escape from Japanese justice, told reporters in Beirut he had been treated “brutally” by Tokyo prosecutors and was the victim of a conspiracy to oust him from the helm of automaker Nissan.

Wearing a blue suit and red tie and speaking defiantly, the one-time titan of the car industry told a packed news conference on Wednesday he would not have faced a fair trial in Japan and would have been tied up in appeals there for five years.

The 65-year-old fled Japan last month where he was awaiting trial on charges of under-reporting earnings, breach of trust and misappropriation of company funds, all of which he denies.

Mr. Ghosn said he had escaped to his childhood home of Lebanon to clear his name. He declined to say how he fled, noting there were conflicting stories about his departure.

“You are going to die in Japan or you are going to have to get out,” he said, describing his feelings. “I felt like the hostage of a country I served for 17 years,” he told reporters crowded into Lebanon’s seaside Beirut press syndicate.

Others waited outside in heavy rain, including some Japanese media who had been excluded from the briefing.

 

“The charges against me are baseless,” Mr. Ghosn added, repeating his allegation that Nissan and Japanese authorities colluded to oust him following a downturn in Nissan’s fortunes and in revenge for French government interference in the carmaker’s alliance with Renault.

Mr. Ghosn’s news conference marks the latest twist in a 14-month saga that has shaken the global auto industry, jeopardised the Renault-Nissan alliance of which Mr. Ghosn was the mastermind and increased scrutiny of Japan’s judicial system.

“Defendant Mr. Ghosn’s allegations completely ignore his own conduct and his one-sided criticism of the Japanese criminal justice system is totally unacceptable,” the Tokyo prosecutor’s office said after Mr. Ghosn spoke.

Mr. Ghosn said he had no intention of merging Renault with Nissan as some in Japan feared, but wanted to put the firms under a holding company that would have maintained a balance between the French carmaker’s push for a union and the Japanese company’s desire to remain autonomous.

 

Mr. Ghosn named Masakazu Toyoda, an independent director at Nissan and a special adviser to the Japanese Cabinet; Nissan’s ex-auditor Hidetoshi Imazu; and the car company’s former executive vice-president Hitoshi Kawaguchi as the main architects of his downfall.

Mr. Imazu, Mr. Kawaguchi and officials at Nissan could not immediately be reached for comment.

“First, if he (Mr. Ghosn) has anything to say, he should do that openly in court before he leaves Japan illegally. A conspiracy story without any evidence sounds like a joke,” one person referred to by Mr. Ghosn told Reuters. Mr. Ghosn declined to name Japanese government officials he said took part in the alleged plot

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 5:45:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/nissan-ex-chairman-carlos-ghosn-appears-for-1st-time-in-public-after-escape/article30514783.ece

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