After eight months of revealing one of the largest auto alliances, a Tokyo court has begun to question the crucial question: is Carlos Ghosn a leader Nissan can’t control, or can’t afford to lose?
The man was arraigned in Tokyo District Court Greg Kelly, a gray -haired Tennessee lawyer who worked at Nissan for 30 years before he was arrested in 2018 on charges of conspiracy to conceal the true extent of Ghosn’s salary in the amount of $ 87m.
But as the settlement progressed, prosecutors and defense focused more on Ghosn. The former Nissan chair would have been in the dock on its own if he hadn’t sleepd Tokyo for Lebanon in 2019.
The focus on the left Ghosn shows the court two conflicting human images.
Prosecutors, through testimonials ranging from top executives to low -level staff, described Ghosn as a feared autocrat. According to eyewitnesses, Ghosn’s word is within the Nissan law, his greed is out of control and his plans will ultimately harm Nissan.
One of them, offering testimony from behind an opaque screen, told the court that in his 10 years of working for Ghosn from him to the belief that he was surrounded by a “special aura” of thinking that he was driven by greed. “I’m not sure if anxiety is the right expression,” the witness said.
This version of Ghosn, according to prosecutors, a man naturally ordered Kelly to create a mechanism to hide the size of his salary if it was in line with his ambition to maintain a certain image in France and Japan.
Meanwhile, Kelly’s team, presented Ghosn as an executive on which the future Nissan relies entirely. As the company hid from crisis to crisis, including the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and mistakenly dismissing Renault staff on suspicion of the spy company, Ghosn became even more dangerous ” staying at risk “.
Nissan is very worried that Ghosn will join a rival company, and he will probably bring in a key executives if he does, Kelly told the court.
Kelly’s testimony challenged the idea that Nissan executives feared Ghosn would force the Japanese company to compromise even more with fellow Frenchman Renault. The main motive for keeping him, according to Kelly, was to “provide his service to Nissan and protect Nissan’s independence from Renault”.
According to Kelly and other Nissan executives, concerns about Ghosn’s retention intensified after his salary was reduced to address changes in Japan’s policy on fee baptism that began in 2010. Ghosn, who one of Japan’s highest paid executives, fears Disclosing his full salary could cause a public backlash and demotion among Nissan employees.
The main question for the judges was whether Ghosn ordered Nissan executives to find ways to pay him what he expected but only declared the reduced amount, or whether the company devised a new scheme. to pay for oneself for fear of losing the chief executive. An important additional question is whether he will actually provide services for his post-retirement pay.
In January Toshiyuki Shiga, Nissan’s former chief operating officer, testified that Ghosn told him to think of ways to receive unpaid compensation after retirement. He took it as a directive from his boss even though he was aware of the “legal risk” of not disclosing it.
The change in Japanese rules coincided with pressure from the French government to cut Ghosn’s salary and reduce his influence as chief executive of Renault, which owns 15 percent of the French state. Ghosn grew increasingly frustrated with both the French government and his salary, Kelly told judges last week.
“There was a time in July or September that he took retirement at age 60 very seriously. [March 2014], “As the former head of legal activity.” If he retires at age 60, he is young and he could have a full -time position as chief executive of any auto company anywhere in the world. “
Concerned that Ghosn would leave Nissan, Kelly said he consulted with Hiroto Saikawa, Ghosn’s chosen successor as chief executive. They agreed that Nissan should consider a post-retirement payment for Ghosn by not competing and arranging consultation.
In February Saikawa, who stepped down as chief executive at Nissan in late 2019, also said he shared the view that Ghosn has become a risk to stay, adding that it is not surprising that “a man with so much done ”with high need.
“His [Saikawa’s] The view is that he was worth $ 100m at some point in the years, ”Kelly said. “Many of Nissan’s best ideas come from Mr. Ghosn. If he can think he has two ideas worth $ 50m, and I know he will, he’ll pay for the contract.”
Consistent with excerpts from statements Ghosn made to prosecutors, the lead chair said he never applied for the contract after retirement and he did not see the terms wanted so there was no formal agreement with Nissan on its deferred payment.
The case continues.