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Ghosn files $1bn lawsuit against Nissan in Lebanon

Person, Human, Suit REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Carlos Ghosn gestures as he talks during an interview with Reuters in Beirut on June 14, 2021

Carlos Ghosn said on Tuesday he will fight “to the end” in a $1 billion lawsuit the former Nissan chairman has brought against the Japanese carmaker, marking his first such challenge.

Ghosn’s lawsuit, which he filed in Lebanon and a copy of which was seen by Reuters, includes allegations of defamation, slander, libel and the fabrication of material evidence by Nissan as well as 12 individuals and two other firms.

A Nissan spokesperson said it will not be commenting.

“We have a long battle in front of us. We are going to fight it to the end,” Ghosn told Reuters in Lebanon, where he has lived since fleeing Japan hidden in a box aboard a private jet.

Ghosn’s lawsuit seeks $588 million in lost remuneration, and another $500 million in moral damage.

“What I am asking for is only a little compensation compared to what they’ve done to me,” the 69-year-old, wearing a blue open-necked shirt, said during an interview in Beirut.

Once a global car industry titan, Ghosn was arrested in Japan in late 2018 and charged with under-reporting earnings, breach of trust and misappropriation of company funds.

He denied the charges and said his detention was part of a plot against him by Nissan.

Ghosn fled Japan in December 2019 as he awaited trial and after arriving in his childhood home of Lebanon said he was escaping a “rigged” justice system and would clear his name.

Tokyo prosecutors have previously said Ghosn’s allegations of a conspiracy were false.

‘Have To Pay’

Asked whether he would expand his legal action to include Renault, part of the alliance with Nissan which he masterminded, Ghosn said his focus was currently on Nissan.

“I’m not precluding anything for the future. Today we are concentrating on the Nissan plot,” he said.

If found guilty, Nissan “will have to pay”, Ghosn said.

“It’s a large company and they have assets everywhere and you can go after their assets anywhere, so this is not a joke,” he said. “I hope they are going to provision this amount of money and I hope they are going to talk to their shareholders about what is happening and why this is happening,” he said.

Ghosn, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenships, said he has not left Lebanon since 2019 because of an Interpol red notice issued by Japan.

“I’m stuck here. I cannot make a complaint of this size in another country,” he said, adding that putting his case together had taken his legal team time as they reconstituted the facts.

A judicial source in Lebanon said the prosecutor has scheduled a court session on September 18 to begin proceedings.

Ghosn said documents had been taken from his home in Lebanon under false pretences on the day of his arrest in Japan and shared with Japanese authorities.

His lawsuit alleges that “the sanctity of a residence” had been violated and says crimes were committed in Lebanon, Japan, France, Brazil, the United States and the Netherlands.

“I have the intention get my rights back, to repair my reputation,” he said. “I am going to dedicate all the time necessary for the truth to prevail.”