Nissan Email Trail Casts New Light on the Takedown of Carlos Ghosn

There is already some proof to support his claim. The effort by top Nissan Motor Co. executives to dethrone one of the most admired figures in the automobile industry started about a year before Ghosn ‘s arrest in late 2018 for suspected financial fraud, according to people familiar with what occurred and previously unacknowledged internal correspondence. Carlos Ghosn has always said that he was set up.

The effort was driven primarily by opposition to the push for greater integration of the former chairman between the Japanese carmaker and long-time alliance partner Renault SA, the new evidence discloses. A chain of email exchanges dating back to February 2018, corroborated by persons who asked not to be identified talking about sensitive information, paints a picture of an orderly move to remove a powerful executive.

At the forefront of such talks was Hari Nada, who ran the office of Nissan’s chief executive and later signed a deal with prosecutors to testify against Ghosn.

Ghosn has said he is innocent of the four financial misconduct and breach of trust charges. Regarded by Japan to be a foreign criminal, Ghosn refused to speak on this story through a spokesperson.

Through combining with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, the tension between the Japanese and French partners inevitably derailed Renault’s 2019 offer for more significant size and stymied coordination over policy and new products. Nissan’s management was in crisis and shrinking profitability, hit by an aging portfolio and rising costs.

Nissan has long believed that the decision to expel Ghosn turned on allegations that his income and other financial transgressions had been underreported by Tokyo prosecutors. But documents and views of individuals acquainted with what has transpired suggest that a strong community of insiders regarded his detention and prosecution as a chance to revamp Nissan’s global automaker partnership with top shareholder Renault on conditions that became more beneficial.

Japan insists it will try to pursue justice for Ghosn, but it does not have an extradition deal with Lebanon, so it is impossible that he would enter a Japanese courtroom.

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