Nissan Sues Bail-Jumping Ex-Boss Carlos Ghosn for $90 Million

We guess Nissan still has hard feelings over that whole thing.

byPatrick George|
Nissan News photo

Evidently, Nissan has found one possible way to offset losses from what's expected to be a stinging fourth quarter: suing its former megaboss-turned-fugitive Carlos Ghosn to the tune of about $90 million. 

The automaker today announced that it is seeking 10 billion yen in damages from Ghosn in a new civil lawsuit filed in Japan's Yokohama District Court. According to a news release, the lawsuit alleges breach of fiduciary duty and misappropriation of company resources on Ghosn's part and seeks to "recover a significant part of the monetary damages inflicted on the company by its former Chairman as a result of years of his misconduct and fraudulent activity."

The Drive has sought an English language copy of the lawsuit from Nissan. If one exists and we receive it, we will update this post with additional details from the filing. 

Ghosn is currently in his familial home of Lebanon following a surreal and daring escape from house arrest in Japan late last year. It was later revealed he fled in a large instrument box as part of an extraction operation led by a former Green Beret. 

His flight from justice is the only thing more bizarre than his downfall, which saw him go from one of the automotive industry's most powerful figures to a suspect awaiting trial in Japan on charges that he underreported his earnings and misappropriated millions of dollars from Nissan. That news broke in late 2018, and Ghosn spent much of last year in and out of jail, under house arrest, filing various appeals and staring down a trial in the infamously effective Japanese justice system.  

Nissan says its lawsuit calculation is tied to Ghosn's use of a rental property abroad; alleged payments to his lawyer and sister; the use of corporate jets; costs related to the internal investigation into his supposed wrongdoing; and legal costs incurred in Japan, the U.S. and other countries. Before his arrest, Ghosn served as chairman of both Nissan and Mitsubishi, as well chairman and chief executive of Renault. 

"The legal actions form part of Nissan’s policy of holding Ghosn accountable for the harm and financial losses incurred by the company as a result of his misconduct," the automaker said in a statement. "Nissan also reserves the right to pursue separate legal action over groundless and defamatory remarks made by Ghosn in comments to the media following his escape to Lebanon in violation of his bail conditions in Japan."

As Automotive News notes, Ghosn himself later filed suit against Nissan and its partner Mitsubishi in the Netherlands, seeking $16.3 million in damages as he alleged an unlawful removal from the company. At the outset of this year, he fired back at Nissan and Japanese prosecutors, alleging both a plot to unseat him and unfair treatment while awaiting trial. It is currently unclear whether Ghosn will ever face trial for his alleged crimes, though he has said he wants to try and clear his name in a venue where he can get "a fair trial." 

Nissan, meanwhile, has struggled through the entire affair as well. Besides the public relations black eye, it's meant significant executive turnover at the top ranks of the company. That scandal, coupled with slumping sales amid a global downturn, cost-cutting across the board and an aging lineup have put significant pressure on the company's new leadership to turn things around.