The Carlos Ghosn saga: 13 rollercoaster months

Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn accompanied by his wife Carole Ghosn, arrives at his place of residence in Tokyo, Japan, on March 8, 2019.
Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn accompanied by his wife Carole Ghosn, arrives at his place of residence in Tokyo, Japan, on March 8, 2019. Issei Kato, Reuters

Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn has arrived in Beirut from Japan where he was facing trial over financial misconduct charges, the latest twist in a saga that has gripped the business world since his arrest in November last year.


Here are some of the key developments in the case:

November: arrested, fired

Prosecutors arrest Ghosn and his right-hand man Greg Kelly on a private jet after it touches down in Tokyo on November 19.

They are accused of financial misconduct, including under-reporting the salary of Ghosn who oversaw the alliance of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors to create the world’s top-selling auto group.

They deny wrongdoing.

French car giant Renault announces on November 20 that chief operating officer Thierry Bollore will take over from Ghosn.

Nissan’s board votes unanimously on November 22 to “discharge” him as chairman. Four days later, he is fired as boss of Mitsubishi Motors.

December: new allegations

On December 10 Japanese prosecutors formally charge Ghosn and Kelly with under-reporting his salary between 2010 and 2015. They are immediately rearrested on allegations of further under-reporting in the past three years.

On December 21 they arrest Ghosn again over fresh allegations that he transferred losses from personal financial investments to Nissan. His detention is prolonged.

Kelly wins bail on December 25 on condition he stays in Japan.

March: bail approved

Ghosn attends his first court hearing on January 8 in handcuffs, insisting the accusations against him are “meritless and unsubstantiated”.

The judge says his detention is justified because he poses a flight risk and could tamper with evidence.

On January 11, prosecutors file two new charges of financial misconduct against Ghosn. Bail is denied.

On January 31, Ghosn tells AFP from prison that his detention would “not be normal in any other democracy”. He shakes up his legal team on February 13.

On March 5, the court approves Ghosn’s third request for bail which is set at one billion yen ($9 million, eight million euros).

April: Rearrest, bailed again

He is rearrested in a dawn raid of his Tokyo apartment on April 4, with investigators now probing suspect payments to a Nissan distributor in Oman.

On April 9, Ghosn’s representatives release a video in which he accuses “backstabbing” Nissan executives of a “conspiracy”.

On April 22, authorities hit him with a further charge of aggravated breach of trust, alleging he siphoned off money for personal ends from cash transferred from Nissan to a dealership in Oman.

On April 25, the court grants Ghosn a second bail of $4.5 million. He is banned from leaving Japan and requires court permission to see his wife.

June: Renault case

On June 4, Renault in France reveals that an internal audit identified 11 million euros of questionable expenses at the Dutch subsidiary RNBV, jointly owned with Nissan.

This includes “certain spending by Mr Ghosn” and over-charging for his plane travel.

France, which holds a 15-percent stake in Renault, says it will cooperate with a case being planned by the carmaker against Ghosn.

September: US charges

On September 9, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa resigns amid allegations that he also padded his salary, adding 47 million yen by altering the terms of a bonus. He denies wrongdoing but apologises.

On September 23 US securities regulators charge Nissan and Ghosn with hiding more than $140 million in his expected retirement income from investors.

Ghosn is fined $1 million and barred from serving as a corporate executive for 10 years, the Securities and Exchange Commission says.

Nissan will pay a $15 million fine, it says.

December: Stunning departure

Just before New Year’s Eve, news emerged that Ghosn had given authorities in Japan the slip and landed in Beirut, apparently defying the terms of his bail conditions.

He was facing a trial probably some time in the spring but his lawyers had claimed that this would not be a fair process and were seeking to have the case thrown out.


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