The former CEO of the Renault-Nissan alliance fled to Lebanon while under house arrest in Japan. The last episode of an incredible affair.

Former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn on April 3, 2019 in Tokyo (Japan).  (KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP)

Since his arrest in November 2018 until his flight to Lebanon on Monday, December 30, the twists and turns are linked in the Carlos Ghosn case. The former CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi automotive alliance is the target of four indictments in Japan, in particular for undeclared income and aggravated breach of trust.

Franceinfo looks back on the main stages of this affair.

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November 2018: arrest and revocation

On November 19, 2018, Carlos Ghosn was arrested when he landed in Tokyo, along with his right-hand man Greg Kelly. The Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian leader, now 65, is suspected of having failed to declare a large part of his income to the stock market authorities between 2010 and 2015.

The next day, November 20, Renault’s executive management was provisionally entrusted to its number two, Thierry Bolloré. Carlos Ghosn was dismissed from the chairmanship of the Nissan board two days later. On November 26, Mitsubishi Motors in turn sacked him. The French and Japanese governments reaffirm their support for the alliance.

December 2018: indictment and new charges

On December 10, Ghosn and Kelly were charged with concealment of income in 2010-2015. On the 13th, Renault confirms Carlos Ghosn as CEO, arguing the presumption of innocence. On December 21, 2018, new charges fell. Carlos Ghosn is suspected of having attempted to have Nissan cover losses on personal investments in 2008. Greg Kelly was released on bail on December 25.

January 2019: Renault resigns

On January 8, 2019, Carlos Ghosn claims in the Tokyo court to be “Falsely accused and unfairly detained”. On January 11, Carlos Ghosn was indicted again for breach of trust and for having reduced his income in Nissan stock reports between 2015 and 2018.

On the 22nd, his request for release on bail was rejected. The next day, he resigned from the presidency of Renault. He is replaced by a tandem made up of Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman, and Thierry Bolloré, general manager. January 31, interviewed by AFP and The echoes in his prison, Carlos Ghosn denounces “A conspiracy” hatched by Nissan to prevent a further integration project with Renault.

February 2019: revelations at Renault

In February, Renault reported to the courts that its former boss had received for his “Personal benefit” – the organization of her wedding in October 2016 – a benefit in kind of 50,000 euros as part of a sponsorship agreement signed with the Palace of Versailles.

March 2019: first release on bail

On March 5, a judge accepts the release of the former CEO on bail of one billion yen (8 million euros), with a ban on leaving Japan. At the end of March, Renault reported several million euros of suspicious payments to the courts, via the company distributing the group’s vehicles in Oman.

April 2019: new arrest and new release on bail

On April 4, Carlos Ghosn was arrested again, accused of having used $ 5 million for his personal benefit. On the 22nd, he was charged again, for aggravated breach of trust. On the 25th, he was released on bail, still under strict conditions and forbidden to leave Japan.

June 2019: an audit reveals 11 million euros of suspicious spending

On June 4, the results of an internal audit conducted by Renault and Nissan within their Dutch subsidiary RNBV revealed 11 million euros in suspicious expenses incurred by Carlos Ghosn. Renault plans to take legal action in the Netherlands.

September 2019: fine in the United States

On September 9, 2019, Carlos Ghosn’s successor at the head of Nissan, Hiroto Saikawa, announces that he is leaving the group, less than a year after having been the gravedigger of his mentor. He had admitted a few days earlier to having pocketed an excess bounty under the Ghosn era. On September 21, 2019, the date for the start of Carlos Ghosn’s trial is set for April 2020 by the Tokyo court. The US Stock Exchange Constable, the SEC, reached an agreement with the ex-CEO on September 23 regarding non-reporting of deferred income in stock documents. Ghosn must pay a fine of a million dollars.

October 2019: search of Rachida Dati

On October 11, 2019, Renault sacked its CEO, Thierry Bolloré, to completely end the Ghosn era. On October 23, the office and home of the mayor of the 7th arrondissement of Paris, Rachida Dati, were raided as part of an investigation into his consulting contracts with a subsidiary of Renault-Nissan. On October 24, Carlos Ghosn’s lawyers unveil their line of defense at a preliminary hearing in Tokyo, denying all the charges and calling for the proceedings to be null and void, deeming the procedure illegal.

December 2019: flight to Lebanon

On December 30, 2019, Lebanese media reported that Carlos Ghosn left Japan and arrived in Lebanon, information confirmed to AFP by a local official source. According to Lebanese media, the ex-CEO would have reached Beirut aboard a private plane from Turkey. Ghosn confirms his flight to Lebanon on December 31, in a press release. “I am now in Lebanon. I am no longer the hostage of a partial Japanese judicial system where the presumption of guilt prevails ”, he says.