Carlos Ghosn has been sitting in a Japanese jail cell since mid-November on charges financial violations, including under-reporting compensation. It is unclear what awaits him in the coming months, but he believes that his downfall is due the result of "plot and treason" by Nissan executives opposed to plans of a merger between Nissan and Renault.
Today, the Nikkei Asian Review published an exclusive interview with Ghosn from the detention center he is currently being held at. This is quite surprising as Ghosn has been "barred from meeting with his family or Nissan employees".
During the short interview (about 20 minutes), Ghosn dismissed various accusations ranging from his 19-year reign at Nissan being a "dictatorship," to the numerous financial charges he is currently facing. One of those charges deals with $14.7 million in payments to a company run by Saudi businessman Khaled al-Juffali. Ghosn said "the executive in charge of the region signed [the approval]," and the funds came from Ghosn's "CEO reserve," a pot of money that he was free to decide how to spend.
"[Have I] done [something] inappropriate? I am not a lawyer, I don't know the interpretation of [such] facts," Ghosn said.
"These are known by everybody, why didn't they tell me?"
Ghosn also talked about the plans for the deeper integration of Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi. The plan was to have the three closely integrated to ensure "autonomy under one holding company." Ghosn also revealed that he wanted to have Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko in the talks about the integration, but Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa wanted to keep the talks "one-on-one". Allies of Ghosn believed some Nissan executives were worried that Ghosn's power could increase under the integration, prompting them to work with Tokyo prosecutors.
A Nissan spokesman told Bloomberg that Saikawa previously refuted the notion of a coup.
“Nissan’s investigation uncovered substantial and convincing evidence of misconduct,” the company said in a statement.