Nissan says it will continue to pursue legal action against Ghosn

Nissan Motor said on Tuesday that former chairman Carlos Ghosn’s flight from Japan would not affect its policy of holding him responsible for “serious misconduct”.

“The company will continue to take appropriate legal action to hold Ghosn accountable for the harm that his misconduct has caused to Nissan,” Nissan said in a statement.

Ghosn became an international fugitive after he revealed last week he had fled to Lebanon to escape what he called a “rigged” justice system in Japan, where he faces charges relating to alleged financial crimes.

He is planning to hold a news conference in Beirut on Wednesday to express his innocence and argue that his arrest for financial crimes in Japan in November 2018 was part of a plot at the carmaker to take him down.

“The consequences of Ghosn’s misconduct have been significant,” the Nissan statement said.

Japan said it is in contact with Lebanon regarding Ghosn’s departure.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that Japan had told Lebanon Ghosn’s flight was regrettable, and it would seek cooperation to find the truth.

Meanwhile, Nissan is dealing with multiple problems. With profits at decade lows and its stock tanking, the carmaker is rife with internal divisions over the removal of its former leader and the way forward.

And Makoto Uchida, who became CEO last month, has a long list of challenges. A top deputy abruptly quit, some 12,500 jobs are on the chopping block, and Uchida needs to refresh an ageing lineup of models.

“The internal investigation found incontrovertible evidence of various acts of misconduct by Ghosn, including misstatement of his compensation and misappropriation of the company’s assets for his personal benefit,” the Yokohama-based carmaker said in the statement.

“Nissan will continue to do the right thing by cooperating with judicial and regulatory authorities wherever necessary.”

Ghosn was arrested slightly more than a year ago at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, kicking off a legal saga that saw him detained for months in solitary confinement before being released on bail, rearrested and bailed out again.

The former Nissan executive, who has Lebanese citizenship, plans to reveal the names of people he believes are behind a “coup” to take him down, including those of some in the Japanese government, at the anticipated press briefing, according to Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, who said she spoke to him last weekend.

In his first remarks since the escape, Ghosn reportedly said he would “finally communicate freely with the media, and look forward to starting next week”. Ghosn told Fox that he will say at the Beirut briefing that he is willing to have his case heard by any court, aside from those in Japan.

Nissan needs to get its business in order fast, with autonomous vehicles and electrification poised to disrupt the car industry in a once-in-a-generation shift. Ghosn’s arrest also hurt its alliance with top shareholder Renault SA, bringing long-standing tensions between the companies to the fore.

“Carlos Ghosn’s escape to the Lebanese Republic without the court’s permission in violation of his bail conditions is an act that defies Japan’s judicial system,” Nissan said. “Nissan finds it extremely regrettable.”

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