New evidence has come to light to infer that Carlos Ghosn’s dethronement in 2018 was a scheme plotted by Nissan executives to prevent him from tightening the alliance between Renault and Nissan.
It all started in early 2018 when Ghosn stated that he plans to make the Nissan-Renault alliance “irreversible.” The problem, as Nissan executives saw it, was the extra leverage (43% stake) that this would give Renault over Nissan.
The executives wanted to instead give the Japanese company a more dominant stand in the relationship with the French automaker. They saw that this would not have been possible with Ghosn, who was the chairman and CEO of both companies.
“…Before it’s too late”
While at it, they also wanted to put an end to Renault’s right to nominate Nissan’s chief operating officer and other senior positions.
Evidence supporting these claims resides within a number of under-the-table emails that insiders recently exposed. These emails were exchanged between Hari Nada, who worked in Nissan’s chief executive’s office under Carlos Ghosn, and other senior managers at Nissan.
According to Bloomberg, Nada wrote in mid-2018 to Hitoshi Kawaguchi, a senior manager at Nissan responsible for government relations, saying Nissan should “neutralize [Ghosn’s] initiatives before it’s too late.”
Around the same time, he corresponded with then-CEO of Nissan Hiroto Saikawa, warning him of Ghosn’s agitation with Nissan’s performance and displeasure with Saikawa’s disapproving comments regarding the Nissan-Renault merger.
For context, the comment referred to here is Saikawa saying in April 2018 that there was ‘no merit” in the said merger.
“He can create a major disruption and you may become a victim of it,” Nada reportedly told Saikawa.
A month after this correspondence, Nissan issued a profit forecast that fell short of meeting analysts’ expectations, and Carlos Ghosn was later charged with underreporting his income.
What to tell the people?
On November 18th, 2018, a day before Ghosn was first arrested, Hari Nada urged Hiroto Saikawa, through a memo, to terminate the agreement governing the Renault-Nissan alliance and restore the latter’s right to buy shares in Renault.
However, Nada, who oversaw many of Ghosn’s affair at Nissan for many years, and later became the whistleblower who reported him, expressed to Saikawa his concern that the allegations against Ghosn may be hard to explain to the public.
For this reason, he said the allegations must be “supported by media campaign for insurance of destroying CG reputation hard enough,” CG representing Ghosn’s initials.
It’s worth noting that this was all taking place behind Renault’s back.
Greg Kelly, a former Nissan executive and board member, was also arrested with Carlos Ghosn, whom he was accused of helping carry out his alleged financial misconduct.
According to the new information, Hari Nada also orchestrated this arrest. He wanted the former executive to be in Japan in order to follow through with the plan against Ghosn.
To consummate the scheme
The exposed correspondence shows that Nada told Kelly, who wanted to “spend thanksgiving [in the U.S.] before coming to Japan,” that his attendance at a board meeting in Japan was urgent.
Commenting on this issue, Kelly’s lawyer James Wareham told Bloomberg that his client has been “caught up in an effort to remove Ghosn and get Renault out of a controlling position.”
“To consummate the scheme, they wanted a witness to be in their control under duress, and then they went so far as to break international extradition law to make that happen,” he explained.
While Carlos Ghosn successfully escaped Japan and remains in his Beirut house to this day, Kelly, who lives in his Tokyo apartment, is still trapped in Japan and waiting for his trial to begin.
Since Ghosn was dethroned, and also partly due to the pandemic-induced global economic crisis, the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance and its members have been struggling to stay afloat for the past few quarters.
After his arrival in Lebanon near the end of 2019, the now-fugitive businessman defended himself against the “injustice” and “persecution” of Japan in a press conference he held in Beirut.