Carlos Ghosn says a $1 billion lawsuit against Nissan is reasonable given his suffering after his arrest

BEIRUT (AP) — Carlos Ghosn said on Friday that the billion-dollar lawsuit he recently filed against Nissan and others is only the beginning of his fight.

The former Nissan CEO said in an interview with The Associated Press in Beirut that if he had been an American citizen filing a lawsuit in the United States, “I wouldn’t be asking for $1 billion, but much more”, given his suffering.

Ghosn led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, saving it from near bankruptcy, before he was arrested in Japan in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, misappropriation of company assets for personal gain and violation of laws on securities by not fully disclosing his compensation.

He fled Japan in December 2019 for Lebanon where he has lived ever since.

Ghosn is wanted in Japan and France. Since he fled to Lebanon, Beirut has received three Interpol notices based on arrest warrants against him from those countries. In France, he faces a number of legal challenges, including tax evasion and suspected money laundering, fraud and misuse of company assets while at the helm of the company. Renault-Nissan alliance.

Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan and does not extradite its citizens.

Ghosn has French, Brazilian and Lebanese nationality.

Ghosn was kept in solitary confinement in Japan for months without being allowed to speak with his wife. He said he fled the country fearing he would have no chance of a fair trial.

Ghosn said it took him more than three years to file a lawsuit because he wanted it to be as strong as possible based on evidence, facts (and) witnesses. He added that “our intention is to win it, so to win it, it has to be backed up by a lot of facts. That’s why it took a long time.

A hearing date in the case by the Lebanese prosecutor’s office is set for September 18.

Half of the money sought by Ghosn, 69, is for damages, he said, while the other half is for compensation including salary, pension funds and stock options.

Ghosn is also seeking monetary compensation from a Nissan subsidiary based in Lebanon, as well as entities that participated in the investigation that led to his arrest and those that obtained documents and computers from his home.

Contacted by the AP in Tokyo to comment on the lawsuit, a Nissan official said: “We will not comment.”

Ghosn fled Japan after skipping $14 million surety in a Hollywood-style caper. His improbable escape – concealed in a box stashed in the hold of a private jet bound for Turkey – embarrassed Japanese authorities and saved him from trial.

Ghosn, however, alleges he was illegally ousted from the company.

“You don’t want corporations to be comfortable with arming the legal system to do a coup where they can’t change direction in a legal way,” Ghosn said. “They’re using the legal system to get rid of management and establish new management and that’s exactly what Nissan did.”

Ghosn said he had no choice but to challenge Nissan regardless of the chances of winning his case.

“Frankly, I’m not very optimistic about the future of the company,” Ghosn said.

Ghosn said he believed more in the Lebanese justice system than in Japan.

“You can defend yourself,” he said. He added, “I went through the Japanese legal system, the so-called legal system, which, by the way, I criticize through my own experience.

“The first time I was able to express myself and defend myself was when I arrived in Lebanon,” he said.

Ghosn claims to be the victim of a defamation campaign led by Nissan with the complicity of the Japanese government, aided by accomplices in France.

Prosecutors in Japan have charged three Americans with helping Ghosn flee the country.

Asked if the lawsuit he filed meant he planned to retaliate, Ghosn said “this is the start of the fight.”

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