Bad Breakup: Nissan Hits Former Boss With $90 Million Lawsuit

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
bad breakup nissan hits former boss with 90 million lawsuit

Jeez, it’s a good thing they didn’t have kids.

Nissan has responded to former chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japanese captivity — and subsequent doubling down on his accusations of a corporate coup orchestrated by Nissan execs, with the help of Japanese officials — by filing a lawsuit.

As it attempts to free up cash elsewhere in the company, the struggling automaker is seeking to recoup losses from Ghosn’s alleged financial impropriety.

The civil suit filed in Yokohama District Court Wednesday seeks to recover financial damages “linked to Ghosn’s breach of fiduciary duty as a company director and his misappropriation of Nissan’s resources and assets,” Nissan said in a statement.

“The size of the damages claim is expected to increase in future as Nissan seeks to recover fines to be paid to the Japanese Financial Services Agency and likely penalties imposed on the company in criminal proceedings related to Ghosn’s misconduct.”

Nissan’s official release doesn’t hold back, claiming the company’s former boss engaged in “corrupt practices over many years.”

According to Nissan, the company is looking to collect:

  • funds linked to fraudulent payments made to or by Ghosn as outlined in Nissan’s statement of September 9, 2019, including the use of overseas residential property without paying rent, private use of corporate jets, payments to his sister, payments to his personal lawyer in Lebanon, etc.;
  • resources and costs related to Nissan’s internal investigation into Ghosn and his misconduct
  • legal and regulatory costs incurred in Japan, the U.S., the Netherlands and other territories

The latest lawsuit adds to one filed in the British Virgin Islands last year, in which Nissan sought to recoup damages “where unauthorized payments and transactions were processed through special purpose entities, seeking the title of a luxury yacht and/or damages and other relief.”

After his daring escape from Japan in late December, where he was being held under house arrest awaiting trial, Ghosn set up shop in extradition treaty-free Lebanon. There, he called a press conference in which he railed against his former company.

That candid exchange clearly rankled Nissan brass, who claim they reserve “the right to pursue separate legal action over groundless and defamatory remarks made by Ghosn in comments to the media following his escape to Lebanon in violation of his bail conditions in Japan.”

The lawsuit comes a day ahead of what’s expected to be a terrible earnings report for the automaker. Citing sources, Reuters claims Nissan will announce its first quarterly loss since the depths of the Great Recession.

Of course, this timing was not lost on Team Ghosn.

As reported by The Guardian, a spokesperson for the fugitive stated, “Nissan’s manoeuvres continue. This complaint is made public on the eve of the Japanese group’s financial results. We note that after months of announcing damages of ¥35bn, Nissan is now claiming ¥10bn at the moment.”

The spokesperson added, “Mr Ghosn’s lawyers will react on the merits of the case once the content of the claim has been brought to their attention.”

[Image: Nissan]

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2 of 11 comments
  • 65corvair 65corvair on Feb 12, 2020

    Doesn't Nissan have any internal controls to prevent these things from happening? Nobody's right when everyone is wrong.

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Feb 13, 2020

    At least he made enough money for Nissan to misappropriate!

  • FreedMike I'll welcome as many cars like this as I can, but I think Acura's "right move" was to put the Accord Sport's 2.0T in the base model and sell it for thirty-five or so. That's a pretty compelling performance / value proposition.
  • Wjtinfwb I'll certainly admit to a bit of nostalgia that drives my appreciation for these 70's yachts, but there's more to it than that. It was an era that the Big 3 ruled the luxury market with the German's and British nothing but a beer fart in the marketplace. That changed drastically as the early '80s crept in but in 1977, a Mark V or Seville was where it was at. No rose colored glasses, they were not great cars, what they were was a great living room that you could ride to the office in. I grew up on a diet of Cadillac's, Lincoln and one big Chrysler before dad made the move to a 280SE in about '77. Impeccably built and very road worthy, dad initially didn't like the firm seats, clunky automatic transmission and very weak A/C. The exorbitant maintenance costs didn't help. But he enjoyed the driving characteristics enough to get another Benz, then a 733i, an Audi 5000S and a Jag XJ6. Compare these to today's Cadillac's (non- V) and Lincoln's that with the exception of the Escalade and Navigator, are boring and probably even more pedestrian than the Eldorado, Seville and Mark's were.
  • FreedMike I was lucky enough to grow up in a household with the two best German luxury sedans of the time - a manual '81 733i, and a '75 Mercedes 450SE. The BMW was a joy on back roads, and the Benz was a superb highway car. Good times. And both were dramatically better than the junkheap American luxury cars Dad had before.
  • Wjtinfwb A Celebrity Diesel... that is a unicorn. Those early A-bodies were much maligned and I'm sure the diesel didn't help that, but they developed into very decent and reliable transportation. Hopefully this oil-burner Chevy can do the same, it's worth keeping.
  • Wjtinfwb After S-classes crested the 40k mark in the early '80s, my dad moved from M-B to a BMW 733i Automatic. Anthracite gray over red leather, it was a spectacular driving car and insanely comfortable and reassuring on long interstate hauls. My mom, not really a car person, used the BMW to shuttle her elderly Mom back home to Pennsylvania from Miami. Mom and grandma both gushed with praise for the big BMW, stating she could have driven straight through the car was so comfortable and confidence inspiring. A truly great car that improved through the E38 generation, at which point the drugs apparently took hold of BMW styling and engineering and they went completely off the rails. The newest 7 series is a 100k abomination.