If you follow business news (or are french), this on-going real-life corporate telenovela is no news to you. If not, there’s a fair chance you do not even recognize this frenchman’s name. But surely you do know the names of the multi-billion automobile compagnies he used to direct : Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi. Remarkably, Carlos Ghosn was Renault’s CEO since 1996 and Nissan’s since 1999. Currently, he finds himself in quite a pinch, under a series of accusations that have brought scandal upon him.
Episode 1 : F is for Fraud ??????
On November 19th 2018, Nissan and the Japanese authorities officially pursue Carlos Ghosn with multiple charges. He is accused of under-reporting nearly 38 million euros from his salary between 2011 and 2015. He is accused of suspiciously managing funds through his and Renault’s saudi arabian partner, Khaled al-Juffali. By so doing, he would have made the company partly pay for his own personal stock losses during the Yen-Dollar crisis, back in 2008. Lastly, he is accused of abusing the company’s trust and holdings for his private interests.
Episode 2 : Orange is the New Corporate Black
That same day, Carlos Ghosn is incarcerated for the next 108, without what we occidentals would call a ‘fair trial’. Indeed, the Japanese justice system works with quite different dynamics than our occidental ones. Here, the accused is innocent until proven guilty. In Japan, the accused is considered guilty until proven innocent. Over the course of the following days, he is removed from the leadership of both Nissan and Mitsubishi. Greg Kelly – the ex-director of Nissan and suspected accomplice of Ghosn – allegedly confesses and confirms the truth, only in exchange for a softened sentence. Renault is absolutely outraged. They fiercely accuse their partners of lying and rush to their CEO’s defense, both publicly and legally. Ghosn is released on bail on March 6th 2019, whilst facing a 15 years-long prison sentence.
Episode 3 : Dead to Renault
Soon following his release, Renault’s internal investigation uncovers that Ghosn’s marriage could have served as a cover-up for deviating part of Renault’s funds into his own pocket. Multiple fictitious employments, benefitting the CEO’s family are discovered. Renault stops fiercely supporting Carlos Ghosn. The French government, owner of 15% of Renault, pushes for Ghosn’s departure from the company. On April 3rd, Carlos Ghosn leaves the board and direction of Renault.
Episode 4 : The Good Ghosn
Carlos is incarcerated yet again on April 4th, and with some new charges. The ex-CEO would have also deviated over 13 million euros from Nissan to a side-company (owned by him) and 26 million euros to a partner-company in Oman. While in prison, Ghosn’s lawyers release a video in which he defends himself, and pleads his innocence. He appeals to the public and to his company. He declares having been victim of an act of betrayal on the part of Nissan, fueled by their fear of the upcoming fusion of Renault and Nissan. Nonetheless, he reaffirmes his love for the company and for Japan, sustaining his innocence. His lawyers bring his case to the Organization of the United Nations (O.N.U.) on his behalf, denouncing the justice system used by the Japanese. He is released again on bail on April 25th, but is forbidden to leave Japan.
Episode 5 : A Royal Party
On May 9th, another video reaches the public. Only this time, it is not out of Ghosn’s own will. This one was found by the French police during their investigation. The video shows that, on the night of March 9th 2014, a luxurious party was being thrown inside the Château de Versailles. According to french newspapers L’Express, L’Obs and Libération, the celebration cost over 634,000 euros. What was the occasion, you ask? Carlos Ghosn’s sixtieth birthday. The funds used to pay for it were supposedly meant for the Renault-Nissan’s dutch company branch. Last Monday (June 4th), Renault determined that another 11 million euros from the company were used suspiciously by Ghosn for his private affairs.
Season 2 : Trailer
Is Ghosn really being framed by Nissan to avoid the merging of the two companies? Could Greg Kelly be the mastermind of the affair ? Will Carlos be proven guilty? Will new charges be found? Will he be able to leave Japan anytime soon? How will he explain Versailles? What will the French justice do? Will Renault actually open a process against its mythical leader?
Find out in the near future, in real life .
Maria Luisa Benjamin