After eight months marking the unity of the world’s largest automotive network, a court in Tokyo raises an important question: Was Carlos Ghosn a leader that Nissan could not keep, or would he not lose?
The defendant in the Tokyo High Court is Greg Kelly, a gray-haired Tennessee lawyer who worked for Nissan for 30 years before he was arrested in 2018 for conspiring to hide Ghosn’s real money for $ 87m.
But as the trial progresses, judges and human rights activists are increasingly focusing on Ghosn. The former Nissan chairman would have been at the port if he hadn’t sleepd Tokyo in Lebanon in 2019.
Looking at the absent Ghosn gave the court two photographs opposing the man.
The protesters, through testimonies from former high-ranking officials to lower-ranking employees, have portrayed Ghosn as a fearless independent. According to witnesses, Ghosn’s words inside Nissan were lawful, his greed was extinguished and his intentions could hurt Nissan.
One of them, testifying behind a curtain, told the court that in 10 years of working Ghosn began to believe that he was surrounded by a “special aura” thinking he was motivated by greed. “I don’t know if emotion is the right thing to do,” the witness said.
This type of Ghosn, according to government critics, was a man who legally ordered Kelly to devise a way to hide the size of his salary if it matched his interest in having a portrait in France and Japan.
Kelly’s team, meanwhile, has offered Ghosn as a senior in a position that Nissan would have relied on. When the company faced difficulties, including the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku and the erroneous eviction of employees from Renault on suspicion of corporate governance, Ghosn became a “safety threat”.
Nissan was very concerned that Ghosn would join the opposition company, and would probably take several supervisors if he did, Kelly told the court.
Kelly’s testimony challenged the notion that Nissan executives feared that Ghosn would force the Japanese company to form a closer alliance with its French counterpart Renault. Kelly said his main goal is to keep him “Nissan and protect Nissan’s rights to Renault”.
According to Kelly and other former Nissan officials, concerns over Ghosn’s detention increased after his salary was reduced to prevent a change in Japanese law on corruption in 2010. Ghosn, one of the world’s top fundraisers. mostly in Japan, he feared that the Disclosure of all of his payments could lead to public unrest and lay off Nissan employees.
The big question among the judges is whether Ghosn advised Nissan executives to find a way to pay him what they expected but only to announce a small amount of money, or if the company came up with new money only because they feared losing its boss. An additional question is whether he would actually pay for his retirement benefits.
In January, Toshiyuki Shiga, a former Nissan chief executive, testified that he had been told by Ghosn to consider ways to earn a pension. He took it as a guide from his boss even though he knew the “legal dangers” of not revealing himself.
The change in Japanese law was accompanied by pressure from the French government to reduce Ghosn’s pay and reduce his powers as Renault chief, which is 15% of the French government. Ghosn was “deeply saddened” by the French government’s failure to pay his salary, Kelly told a judge last week.
“There was a time in July or September when he was seriously considering retirement at the age of 60 [March 2014], ”The former Attorney General said. “If he retires at the age of 60, he is still young and could do a great job as a major automotive company anywhere in the world.”
Fearing that Ghosn would leave Nissan, Kelly said he had negotiated with Hiroto Saikawa, who was chosen by Ghosn to be the senior. He agreed that Nissan would consider Ghosn retiring due to non-competition and consultation.
In February Saikawa, who resigned from Nissan in late 2019, also said he was of the opinion that Ghosn was kept in danger, adding that it was not surprising that a “very successful man” would be needed.
“Wake up [Saikawa’s] The idea was that it was worth $ 100m for many years, ”said Kelly. “Most of Nissan’s best ideas came from Ghosn. He would have had two $ 50m ideas, and I know he would have paid the contract.”
According to Ghosn’s comments to the opposition, the former chairman said he had not asked for a retirement plan and had not received the terms because there was no agreement with Nissan on his return.
The case is ongoing.