After an emotionally charged plea in court, defending his actions and rejecting all accusations, Carlos Ghosn’s bid has been officially rejected.
With his detention period extended upwards of a potential 6 months, and with things closing in on him, Ghosn is in a very difficult position.
Ghosn fighting health issues?
Last week, Ghosn had hitched his hopes on his words having an impact on the court, even when his head lawyer Motonari Otsuru had little expectations of this working.
“Now that Mr. Ghosn’s application for bail has been rejected, he can legally be held until at least March 10, and prosecutors are entitled to request one-month extensions,” the New York Times said. “Motonari Otsuru, Mr. Ghosn’s lead lawyer in Tokyo and a former top prosecutor, has speculated that the executive’s detention could stretch for many months.”
The Japanese criminal justice system is infamous for its 99% conviction rate, and for other shocking procedures, such as interrogating suspects without the presence of a lawyer, which is what happened with Ghosn.
His wife has come out and criticized the Japanese criminal justice system, calling it “draconian.” At this court appearance last week, Ghosn appeared thinner and with a lot of gray hair, having been detained for 50 days at the time.
Now, media outlets are reporting that he has gone down with a fever. Detention could cause the 64-year old ex-executive further health complications, especially now that he awaits his trial, which Motonari expects could be 6 months away.
Ghosn’s accusations center on him understating his salary between the years of 2010 and 2018, with the most recent charge accusing him of using Nissan funds to cover personal losses.
Conspiracy talks: Ghosn victim of a coup
If the sudden face-turn from Nissan comes off as surprising, especially given that it was Ghosn who had revived the automaker from collapse, it’s because there’s more at play here, at least according to the ousted CEO’s children.
According to the New York Times (NYT), his children believe accusations of financial misconduct against him are “part of a revolt within Nissan against exploring a possible merger with Renault.”
“Caroline Ghosn, the eldest of Mr. Ghosn’s four children, said that when she saw Hiroto Saikawa, the chief executive of Nissan, condemn her father during a televised news conference after his arrest, she suspected that Nissan’s investigation was rooted in opposition to proposed changes to the Nissan-Renault alliance and ‘the merger my dad was setting up,’ NYT reported.
According to a report from the Financial Times, Nissan’s board opposed Ghosn’s plan to merge Nissan and Renault—a plan that was set to materialize within months, according to the paper’s sources, US business news site Fortune said.
“The merger would have rendered the Renault-Nissan alliance ‘irreversible,’” the site continued. “The two companies already hold shares in one another—Renault owns 43% of Nissan and Nissan owns 15% of Renault, so the French firm has the upper hand.”
According to CNBC, some auto executives have agreed with line of reasoning Ghosn’s children have adopted, believing Nissan’s actions to be fueled by a “coup.”
“The timing seems more than coincidental,” suggested one former top auto executive who has high-level ties with Nissan, CNBC reported.
This might have some merit as just last week, Jose Munoz, Nissan’s Chief Perfromance Officer and a close ally of Ghosn, had resigned.
“Jose Munoz, widely considered as a close ally to Ghosn and a possible successor to lead the automaking partnership between Nissan and France’s Renault, had been a “person of interest” in Nissan’s widening internal investigation,” CNBC said.
“People with knowledge of the issue have said that Munoz, who had been placed on a leave of absence earlier in the month, had not been co-operating with the internal investigation,” CNBC continued.
While it’s all conjecture at this point, these conspiracy theories could have some merit to them, based on recent happenings and the timing of certain events.
Ghosn being disavowed by former allies?
Now, external parties are deliberating on the Ghosn matter.
Nissan, for one, will be seeking damages in a civic lawsuit to claim for damages resulting from alleged misuse of company funds, a person with knowledge of the issue told Reuters.
On the other side of the world, in France, other sources told the news agency that “the French government (which commands a 15% Renault stake and two board seats) is moving to dismiss Renault's scandal-hit Chairman and Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn, and has requested a board meeting to consider candidates to replace him.”
This decision was made after it was made clear that Ghosn would be spending many more months in detention than at first anticipated.
French officials had said Ghosn should be kept in office unless it became clear he was would remain "incapacitated" for much longer, Reuters said, also hinting that this week’s court decision would be an "important development"