January 8, 2020 / 1:13 PM / 19 days ago

HIGHLIGHTS-Former Nissan boss Ghosn points the finger at news conference

BEIRUT, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Fugitive former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn said that he was brought down by a plot cooked up at the company, some of whose executives he named at a news conference in Beirut on Wednesday.

Ghosn fled to Beirut last month from Tokyo, where he had been awaiting trial on charges of financial misconduct.

Following are some of his comments:

RENAULT-NISSAN INTEGRATION

I was ready to retire before June 2018... I unfortunately accepted this offer to continue to integrate the two companies (Renault and Nissan).

Some of my Japanese friends thought that the only way to get rid of the influence of Renault on Nissan, was to get rid of me.

***

I think the alliance can succeed without me but the alliance has to follow some rules. The alliance is not going to work on consensus, they think consensus decision-making is the only way.

When I look at the alliance, what happened in the last 13 months, I am not very sure about the future of the alliance.

‘A HANDFUL OF VINDICTIVE INDIVIDUALS’

My unimaginable ordeal is the result of a handful of unscrupulous, vindictive individuals.

BASELESS CHARGES

The charges against me are baseless.

Why have they extended the investigation timeline, why have they rearrested me? Why were they so intent on preventing me from talking and setting out my facts?

Why have they spent 14 months trying to break my spirit, barring any contact with my wife?

(One reason) was that Nissan performance unfortunately started to decline at the beginning of 2017...in October 2016 I decided to remove myself from Nissan...because I signed a deal with Mitsubishi. I moved to Mitsubishi as chairman of the board.

‘UNMISSABLE’ CHANCE TO ALLY WITH FIAT CHRYSLER

Who is the winner of all this?

In 2017, the alliance was the number one automotive group. Three companies growing, profitable. We were preparing to add Fiat Chrysler to the group because I was negotiating with John Elkann for Fiat Chrysler to join.

There is no more alliance.

The alliance missed the unmissable which is Fiat Chrysler. That is unbelievable, they go with PSA. How can you miss that huge opportunity to become the dominant player in the industry?

***

I had contact with FCA. We had a lot of understanding, we have very good dialogue, unfortunately I was arrested before we could come to a conclusion. (Had planned a meeting for January 2019 to try to conclude the deal.)

It’s a great opportunity for PSA, it’s a big waste for Renault.

NO MORE ALLIANCE

They turned the wrong page because there is no more profit, there is no more growth, there is no more strategic initiative, no more technology, no more alliance. What we see today is a masquerade of an alliance.

INNOCENT

I am innocent of all the charges.

I left Japan because I wanted justice. It is the only way to reestablish my reputation. If I don’t get it in Japan, I will get it somewhere else.

***

‘You are going to die in Japan, or you are going to have to get out.’

I felt like the hostage of a country I served for 17 years.

DEPRIVATION, INTERROGATION

I was brutally taken from my work as I knew it, ripped from my work, my family and my friends.

It is impossible to express the depth of that deprivation and my profound appreciation to be able to be reunited with my family and loved ones.

(I was) interrogated for up eight hours a day without any lawyers present.

‘It will get worse for you if you don’t just confess’, the prosecutor told me repeatedly.

***

I was anxious, I was hopeful but frankly I was numb. I have been in a nightmare. The nightmare started when I saw the face of the prosecutor and it ended when I saw the face of my wife.

PLAN NOW?

I am used to what you call ‘Mission Impossible’. When I went to Japan in 1999, they said ‘You will never make it’.

I can do a lot and I want to clear my name.

You can expect me in the next weeks to take some initiatives.

RED NOTICE

There is a red notice (for a wanted person) that the Japanese have sent through Interpol. I don’t consider myself as a prisoner in Lebanon. I prefer this prison to the one before.

I am ready to stay a long time in Lebanon, but I am going to fight because I have to clear my name.

GREG KELLY (Former Nissan colleague) Greg Kelly, an honourable man...Greg remains a victim of the Japanese hostage justice system.

PRESUMED GUILTY

I was presumed guilty before the eyes of the world.

DECISION TO FLEE

This (escape) was the most difficult decision of my life but I was facing a system where the conviction rate is 99.4%, and I believe this number is far higher for foreigners.

MARKET CAP TUMBLES

The market cap decrease of Nissan since my arrest is more than $10 billion. They lost more than $40 million a day during all of this. The market cap of Renault went down since my arrest by 5 billion euros.

VERSAILLES, CELEBRATION OF 15 YEARS OF ALLIANCE

Versailles is not Louis XIV, it is the most visited site in France, it is a symbol of the achievement of France, it is a symbol of the globalisation of France.

GHOSN’S HOUSES

This is part of the character assassination, and the media jumped on it.

PROSECUTORS IN CONTROL

I thought the boss was the judge, the boss was the prosecutor. The judge - very nice guy, very polite - but the prosecutors did what they want.

FROM ROLE MODEL TO DICTATOR

For 17 years I was a role model in Japan. All of a sudden prosecutors in Japan (characterised me as a) ‘cold, greedy, dictator’.

It’s wrong, I like Japan, I like the people of Japan. Why Japan is repaying me with evil, for the good that I did to the country, I don’t understand.

***

There is no democratic country I know where you go to jail for this kind of accusation, even if they are correct.

***

I don’t personally think the top level (of Japanese govt) was involved.

***

I would be ready to stand trial anywhere where I think I would have a fair trial.

OFFERED DOUBLE PAY TO JOIN GM

I made a mistake, I should have accepted the offer. (Editing by Keith Weir, Josephine Mason and Hugh Lawson)

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