Carlos Ghosn Sues Nissan for $1 Billion, Vows a ‘Fight to the End’

The former CEO of Nissan claims the company engineered his arrest in Japan over fears he would fully merge it with a foreign automaker.

byNico DeMattia|
via Getty Images
via Getty Images.
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Former Nissan-Renault CEO and current international fugitive Carlos Ghosn's name may have slipped from the headlines since we interviewed him in exile in January 2022, but you can bet he's not done fighting his ex-employer. Over three years after fleeing Japan in an instrument case and holing up in Lebanon, Ghosn is suing Nissan for over $1 billion for defamation, slander, libel, and fabrication of evidence, according to Reuters.

His lawsuit, filed in Lebanon and a copy of which was viewed by Reuters, names twelve specific people including Nissan employees and board members, who Ghosn claims were involved with a coordinated plot to remove him from the company by pushing Japanese prosecutors to file bogus financial crimes charges. Though Ghosn stepped down from as Nissan CEO in 2017, he remained heavily involved as chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance until he was arrested in November 2018.

In our interview with him, Ghosn claimed that factions within Nissan feared he would engineer either a full merger with Renault or another automaker that would result in foreigners running one of Japan's most important homegrown companies, so they conspired to have him arrested. That allegation is repeated in the lawsuit; he's seeking $500 million in damages to his reputation and $588 million in lost compensation. For now, the suit is just focused on Nissan, but Ghosn told Reuters that going after Renault is still on the table.

Ghosn has been cooling his heels in Lebanon since fleeing his house arrest in Japan, as the two countries do not have an extradition treaty. The lawsuit was filed in Lebanese courts, according to Reuters, though it's unclear what a judgment against Nissan would actually mean for the company. In any case, Ghosn vows that his $1B ask is "not a joke" and that Nissan will "have to pay" if found guilty. Ghosn is still the subject of an Interpol arrest notice and is unable to leave Lebanon as a result.

Carlos Ghosn broadcast after fleeing arrest in Japan | via Getty Images

Ghosn hasn't been quiet about his claims of a rigged Japanese legal system either. His arrest and treatment in Japan, in which he was detained four separate times and thrown in solitary confinement, was deemed a violation of his rights, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. However, France also has a warrant out for Ghosn' arrest, for allegedly funneling Nissan-Renault money through a third party for his own use, including buying a 120-foot yacht.

This lawsuit is said to begin during a court session on September 18. Ghosn's story will also hit the small screen, as a miniseries about his life and arrest is currently in the works, called Fall of the God of Cars, with actor Tony Shalhoub set to play the former CEO.

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