Carlos Ghosn’s legal woes deepen as Nissan seeks $95m in damages

FILE PHOTO: Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, attends the Tomorrow In Motion event on the eve of press day at the Paris Auto Show, in Paris, France, October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

Ousted Nissan Motor Co chairman Carlos Ghosn‘s legal woes deepened on Friday with the start of a civil trial in Yokohama, Japan, where his former employer is seeking 10 billion yen ($95 million) in damages.

“The legal actions initiated today form part of Nissan’s policy of holding Ghosn accountable for the harm and financial losses incurred by the company due to (his) misconduct,” Nissan said in a statement.

Ghosn, who also ran French carmaker Renault SA, has been in Lebanon since January after fleeing Japan before he was due to stand trial. He denies any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors, who arrested Ghosn two years ago, have charged him with hiding 9.3 billion yen ($88.6 million) in compensation, enriching himself at Nissan’s expense through $5 million payments to a Middle East car dealership and temporarily transferring personal financial losses to the automaker’s books.

The “Nissan civil lawsuit is an extension to the extremely unreasonable internal investigation with sinister intent by a portion of Nissan’s senior management and the unreasonable arrests and indictments by the public prosecutors,” Ghosn said in an emailed statement.

Ghosn, who has said he was removed from Nissan to thwart any merger with Renault, which already owns 43% of the Japanese carmaker, was represented in the Yokohama court by lawyers.

The civil proceeding got underway as the criminal trial of former Nissan executive Greg Kelly, who is accused of helping Ghosn hide his earnings, continued at a court in Tokyo.

Kelly, who has lived in Japan since his release on bail almost two years ago, also denies any wrongdoing. Nissan, which is also a defendant in that trial, has pleaded guilty. If found guilty, Kelly could face up to ten years in prison and a 10 million yen fine. The conviction rate in Japan is around 99%.

Nissan is drawing back from the business expansion undertaken under Ghosn. On Thursday, it trimmed its full-year operating loss forecast as a rebound in auto demand in China and elsewhere helped boost sales.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.