- former nissan and renault chairman carlos ghosn gave a live press conference in which he spoke in detail about his legal troubles and escape from japanese custody. "i should never have been arrested in the first place," he insisted.
- armed with what appeared to be nissan financial documents, ghosn spoke at length and answered questions from reporters in four languages.
- ghosn emphasized he can be expected to "take some initiative to tell you how i'm going to clear my name" in the coming days and weeks.
carlos ghosn, days after a daring and illegal escape from japan, spoke to reporters for more than two hours in beirut vowing to clear his name against criminal charges waged by nissan and the japanese government.
impassioned, armed with what appeared to be nissan financial documents on screen, and answering questions in four languages, ghosn expressed shock as he delivered a mini-history of his 17 years at the automaker—from when nissan was "a dead company" in 1999 to, by 2017, an alliance with renault and mitsubishi making it the largest automaker in the world. ghosn said he would not discuss how he left japan on christmas eve—reports still linger that he hid inside a musical instrument case and was shipped aboard a private plane—and said he would not have to remain in lebanon forever. ghosn has an interpol "red notice" that is similar to an arrest warrant should he fly to countries that could potentially extradite him back to japan. ghosn, who was jailed for more than 100 days starting in november 2018, last spoke publicly in april.
"i didn't run from justice. i want justice," ghosn said. "if i don't get it in japan, i'm going to get it somewhere else."
he said that his japanese lawyers, whom he has now traded for a team in france, said it would take five years to receive a judgment on just one of the charges. ghosn said japan's 99 percent conviction rate meant he would never have received a fair trial and that the court was intentionally "breaking" him after banning his wife from contacting him for nine months.
"you're going to die in japan, or you're going to get out," he said.
as in past statements, ghosn expressed his derision for the japanese legal system while describing admiration for japan and the japanese people. he said that when the fukushima nuclear reactor melted in 2011, he insisted to nissan they approve travel to the region when no one else was going.
"i revived nissan. we crossed the financial crisis together. when the tsunami hit japan, i was the first foreigner to come back to japan when everyone was leaving japan," he said.
ghosn is accused of making false disclosures on nissan's corporate financial statements—specifically, that he omitted tens of millions of dollars of his income from nissan's public filings—along with breach of trust for using company money for personal use, among additional charges. additional allegations that ghosn used nissan money to buy luxury homes in beirut and paris and that an oman distributor helped him buy a yacht have swirled before his trial date, which is still not set.
ghosn continued to express shock that he would be treated as a criminal and questioned why the media was treating nissan like a "mom and pop shop" that didn't have accounting checks and balances.
"for 17 years i was considered as a role model in japan. more than 20 books of management written about me," he said. "and like this, in a minute, a few prosecutors and a bunch of nissan executives said this guy is a cold, greedy dictator."
as for not being able to leave lebanon—which technically, ghosn could do but likely will not until the "red notice" is removed—ghosn compared his current semi-fugitive status to when he first started at nissan as a foreigner in japan.
"i am used to what you call 'mission: impossible.' i've been in too many 'mission: impossible,' he said. "when i went in japan in 1999 everybody told me it's impossible, you're not going to make it. who are you? you don't speak japanese. you're coming from france, you're coming from renault."
when asked if he had traded a prison in japan for a prison in lebanon, ghosn remained upbeat.
"frankly, i don't feel at all unhappy in lebanon, i'm ready to stay a long time in lebanon, but please do not consider that i just accept this as it is. i'm gonna fight. because i have to clear my name, and this is something which is extremely important to me. i can't accept the fact that fabricating a story and lying about something at such a scale can prevail."