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Gone Carlos Ghosn (KOR)

Jan 06,2020
LEE DONG-HYUN
The author is the deputy head of the industrial 1 team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Carlos Ghosn, former chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, surprised the world twice in just over a year. In November 2018, he was arrested by the Tokyo district prosecutors as he was attending the centenary celebration of the French Chamber of Commerce in Japan. A year later, he went from automobile big shot to criminal for allegedly under-reporting earnings and misusing company assets.

What surprised the world once again was his cinematic flight at the end of last year. After attending trial preparation on Dec. 25, he attended a Christmas party at his Tokyo residence and appeared in Lebanon a week later.

According to foreign media reports, he hid himself in an instrument case that a private security officer disguised as a band member had brought in and escaped. He flew from Kansai International Airport in Osaka in Japan to Istanbul, Turkey, and then on to Beirut, Lebanon, on a private jet.

He was under a travel ban, so Japanese authorities panicked as he departed the country without being caught. Ghosn’s wife Carol reportedly commanded the “operation,” with help from a security company and the Lebanese government. The Japanese judicial system and immigrations control management have been humiliated.

Many have conspiracy theories on the fall of Ghosn, who rose to fame by reviving Nissan from the verge of bankruptcy in 1999. While it was restored with help from Renault, it was Nissan that kept the Renault-Nissan Alliance running over the past few years. There were complaints in Japan as a result of being unable to exercise control over the Japanese company.

That’s why some suggest that the Abe government ousted Ghosn, who pursued a complete merger of Renault and Nissan. While he was the CEO of a Japanese company, he was also the head of a French company. The arrest and indictment of Ghosn were seen as having been influenced by the government.

After the fall of Ghosn, the performances of Nissan and Renault have been in decline. Last year, Nissan’s profit halved from the year before, and Renault’s sales declined at double-digit rates. There is no way of knowing whether Ghosn’s arrest and indictment were engineered. But it seems clear to me that the judiciary excessively intervening in business does not help.