Carlos Ghosn files $1 billion lawsuit in Lebanon against Nissan

Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan, has sued the company for more than $1 billion in a lawsuit filed in Lebanon last month over his detention in Japan and his 2018 ouster from the car company.

Nissan is a leading Japanese car brand and ninth biggest automaker in the world, posting a revenue of $75 billion in 2022. It is in an alliance with French carmarker Renault, which Ghosn previously was head of.

Bloomberg reported the news of the lawsuit on Tuesday, having seen a copy of it, which accuses the Japanese carmaker and two other companies as well as a dozen named individuals of crimes including defamation, slander, libel and fabricating material evidence. The lawsuit was filed at Court of Cassation in Lebanon on May 18. According to Judge Sabbouh Suleiman, the case is set to be heard in September, The Associated Press reported.

The news wire reported that the lawsuit claims $588 million in lost compensation as well as $500 million in punitive measures.

Among the people accused of crimes in the document include several Nissan board members and senior managers, including a manager in the CEO’s office who agreed to cooperate with Japanese prosecutors to avoid prosecution.

Translated from Arabic to English, the filing details “the serious and sensitive accusations” by Nissan, claiming Ghosn “will suffer from them for the remainder of his life, as they have persistent and lingering impacts, even if based on mere suspicion.”

Ghosn, once a titan of the global automotive industry, was arrested in Tokyo in late 2018 and charged with financial misconduct. He denies the charges and said his arrest was part of a plot by Nissan executives to block a merger of the Renault-Nissan alliance with Italian American auto company Fiat-Chrysler, which has since combined with French carmaker Peugeot instead. The deal would have made the Renault-Nissan alliance the third-biggest carmaker behind Volkswagen and Toyota.

In December 2019, Ghosn made a dramatic escape from house arrest in Japan, hidden on a private jet to Lebanon, his childhood home where he has citizenship. When he arrived in Lebanon, he decried Japan’s justice system as “rigged” and said that he would clear his name. Japanese prosecutors have charged three Americans with helping Ghosn flee Japan. 

The businessman, who also holds Brazilian and French citizenship, had been awaiting trial in Japan on charges of breach of trust, underreporting Nissan’s earnings and misappropriation of the company’s funds.

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