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Carlos Ghosn: $1bn Nissan lawsuit ‘not a gimmick’

Carlos Ghosn Reuters/Mohamed Azakir
Ghosn was arrested in 2018 for multiple financial misconduct charges
  • Suit demanding $588.2m compensation for lost earnings and shares
  • Claims that Nissan disseminated fake news about Ghosn
  • Ghosn in Lebanon after escaping Japan in a box on a private jet

Carlos Ghosn’s $1.09 billion lawsuit against his former employer Nissan, filed on Monday in Lebanon, is “not a gimmick” and the former car boss had considered claiming for an even higher amount, his legal team in Beirut told AGBI.

The lawsuit, which AGBI has seen, levies 10 criminal offences against 12 individuals and two firms in addition to Nissan, related to longstanding claims by Ghosn that he was the victim of an internal plot at the Japanese carmaker to remove him.

The suit claims compensation of $588.2 million for the lost earnings, stock options and share appreciation that Ghosn would have received had he remained the CEO for eight more years.

In addition, the suit seeks moral indemnification of at least $500 million.

The charges include defamation, providing false testimony, and fabricating evidence. 

The suit claims that Nissan “paid media campaigns to tarnish [Ghosn’s] reputation” and disseminated “fake news” about the former automobile CEO.

The total damages amount to 7.2 percent of Nissan’s market cap, but Ghosn’s lawyer, Carlos Abou Jaoude, said it is “not a gimmick”. 

Abou Jaoude justified his claim for moral damages citing Ghosn’s business successes.

“Why can someone like Carlos Ghosn claim the top amount? Because he is Carlos Ghosn,” he said, adding that he initially wanted to claim a higher amount. 

A court date for the case has been set for September 18.

Ghosn, who was named CEO at Nissan in 2001, rose to preside over Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, the first global automobile group.

He was arrested in 2018 for multiple financial misconduct charges, including under-reporting his salary and using company assets for personal use. 

The suit alleges that Ghosn agreed with Nissan to voluntarily reduce his salary.

After being released from jail in 2019, he escaped from house detention in Japan by hiding in a box that was smuggled aboard a private jet. He flew to Lebanon, where he has been based since.

His legal team says that civil and criminal charges filed against Ghosn in Lebanon and France are ongoing “without any major development”.

Ghosn has previously said he fears he would not get a fair trial in Japan and cannot travel to France due to an Interpol warrant for his arrest issued as part of a red notice by Japan.

A spokesperson from Nissan declined to comment.