Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan CEO who has been charged with financial misconduct in Japan, spoke to the public at length for the first time today (April 9) since his arrest in November.
Ghosh, however, delivered the message through a pre-recorded video shown by his lawyer at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, and said, “If you are listening to me on this video, it means I was not able to make the press conference I scheduled for April 11.” Last week, Ghosn created a Twitter account and announced that he planned to “tell the truth about what’s happening.” Just a day after that, however, he was arrested again and is currently being held in a detention center in Tokyo until at least April 14.
“This is a conspiracy. This is not about specific events, this is not about, again, greed, this is not about dictatorship. This is about a plot. This is about conspiracy. This is about backstabbing,” said Ghosn, who once again denied wrongdoing.
The latest arrest centers around an investigation over whether Ghosn redirected company funds through a business partner in Oman for personal use, including the purchase of a yacht, according to media reports (paywall).
Ghosn, who emphasized in the video that he still loves both Japan and Nissan, said that executives at the car maker were motivated by what he said was “fear” of the “next step of the 20-year alliance with France’s Renault, including a possible merger. He said that some at Nissan felt that it “would in a certain way threaten some people, or eventually threaten the autonomy of Nissan—which by the way has never been threatened for the last 19 years.”
Renault owns 43% of Nissan, and Nissan owns a non-voting stake of 15% in the French company, effectively giving Renault a greater say over the alliance, reportedly a growing source of resentment in Japan in recent years. Ghosn was appointed Nissan chairman in 1999 to rescue Nissan from near bankruptcy.
Nissan shareholders yesterday (April 8) voted to remove Ghosn from its board and to approve the appointment of Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard as his replacement, marking the total termination of ties between the executive and the Japanese auto maker.
“I’m talking here about a few executives who, obviously for their own interests and for their own selfish fears, are creating a lot of value destruction. Names? You know them. We’re talking about people who really played a very dirty game… Hopefully the truth will happen and the facts will happen.”
His lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, said that the names of individuals stated by Ghosn in the video had been redacted.
The 64-year-old was indicted in December, and if found guilty could face up to 10 years in prison. Ghosn was granted bail over a month ago at ¥1 billion ($9 million) after he appointed Hironaka as his new lawyer—nicknamed “the Razor” for his combative style and track record in winning high-profile cases—to represent him, following two failed bail requests.