Carlos Ghosn, the former head of Nissan who has been accused of funneling money from French automaker Renault to fund his luxury lifestyle, has sued Nissan for $1 billion claiming libel, defamation and the fabrication of material evidence, Reuters reported Tuesday.
Ghosn, who fled Japan after he said Nissan and 12 connected people arranged for his arrest for financial misconduct, filed the lawsuit in his home country of Lebanon.
Controversy has since shrouded the journey as maritime experts and others question why the submersible—which was built using parts from RV supplier Camping World and is controlled with a 2011 Logitech gamepad controller— was allowed to make the journey in the first place.
The lawsuit claims $588 million in lost compensation and costs, as well as $500 million in punitive measures, according to Bloomberg.
Ghosn was arrested in Japan in late 2018 on charges he says were fabricated in a plot by Nissan executives to block a merger; he escaped the country aboard a private jet the following year.
The ex-CEO is accused of funneling funds from the French automaker Renault through Oman-based vehicle distributor Suhail Bahwan Automobiles and using the money for purchases like a 120-foot luxury yacht.
Ghosn, who was hired by Renault in 1996, was the driving force behind the 1999 alliance formed between the French automaker and Nissan. He was named president of Nissan in 2000 and CEO in 2001. Mitsubishi was added to the partnership in 2017 and Ghosn served as the chairman and CEO of the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance until his arrest. Ghosn and his top aide, Greg Kelly, were arrested in Japan in November of 2018 and held for questioning over allegations of false accounting. Ghosn was fired from Nissan’s board the same day and Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa claimed the pair underreported their pay, a violation of securities law, and used company money for personal use. Ghosn fled Japan in December of 2019 and has since doubled down on claims of his innocence, claiming Nissan officials colluded with Japanese prosecutors to have him arrested out of bitterness that Renault had too much influence over the company. Ghosn has accused the prosecutors of leaking false information to the press in a bid to ruin his reputation. Ghosn settled with the Securities and Exchanges Commission over $140 million of false financial disclosures to investors relating to his salary and benefits. Nissan and Ghosn settled without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations.
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A Lebanese prosecutor has scheduled a court session on Sept. 18 to begin proceedings, Reuters reported.
The $1 billion lawsuit is the latest in a series of court proceedings with Nissan and its ex-chief. The Ghosn family sued Nissan immediately following the arrest, after the company allegedly changed the locks to homes in Rio de Janeiro and Beirut, paid for with money from Nissan and Zi-A, the Wall Street Journal reported. Courts later granted the family access to their Rio apartment and Beirut mansion to collect personal items. Ghosn then filed a wrongful termination suit against Nissan in Amsterdam in 2019, saying he was dismissed from the carmaker’s Dutch unit and by a joint venture called Nissan-Mitsubishi BV. The Dutch court later ordered him to repay $6.1 million in wages to Nissan and Mitsubishi, Reuters reported. Nissan in 2020 filed a $91 million civil lawsuit against Ghosn seeking to “recover a significant part of the monetary damages inflicted on the company by its former chairman as a result of years of his misconduct and fraudulent activity,” Bloomberg reported. That suit is still pending, as are the criminal charges he faces in Japan for underreporting compensation.
The Fall of the House of Ghosn (Wall Street Journal)