Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Ghosn faces Nissan in Dutch court for 1st time since escape

Feb 11. 2020
File Photo: Ghosn/Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg
File Photo: Ghosn/Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg
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By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Ellen Proper

Carlos Ghosn's lawyers faced off with Nissan in an Amsterdam court for the first time since the former executive's dramatic escape from Tokyo last year.

Ghosn is suing his former employer for 15 million euros ($16.4 million) as part of a Dutch wrongful dismissal lawsuit. At a hearing Monday, his lawyers asked a court for access to documents related to a March 2019 report on internal governance that led to Ghosn's dismissal by the carmaker's Dutch unit and by a joint venture called Nissan-Mitsubishi BV.

The 65-year-old, who was facing two trials on charges of financial misconduct in Japan, jumped bail and fled the country in December with the help of a security detail led by a former Green Beret. Ghosn has since accused executives at Nissan of plotting with prosecutors in Japan to have him unjustly arrested.

Ghosn's lawyers argued that documents used to write the report were the basis for his ouster from top leadership roles at Nissan, France's Renault SA, and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., and are necessary for his wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

"He needs to know how and why Nissan came to the conclusion that there was no confidence in him anymore," Ghosn lawyer Roeland de Mol told the three-judge panel. Ghosn didn't attend the hearing and remains in Lebanon where he settled after his escape.

Nissan's lawyers said that Ghosn's dismissal was justified by many factors including his long-term detention in Japan as well and questionable tax payments by the Nissan-Mitsubishi joint venture. They detailed an earlier allegation he embezzled 7.8 million euros, and told the court they want it back.

"Ghosn has started a media offensive in which he tries to portray himself as a victim and has announced a massive offensive of lawsuits with bravado," Nissan lawyer Eelco Meerdink told the court.

In January 2019, Nissan alleged that Ghosn been improperly paid 7.8 million euros through Nissan-Mitsubishi. His lawyer said Monday that the amount included 5.8 million euros in salary he had been receiving as Nissan's CEO. The venture started to pay it after he stepped down from that role at the Japanese automaker, with the aim of keeping the payments off of Nissan's books, Meerdink said.

Similarly, the tax payment totaled almost 500,000 euros, and Ghosn also received an improper 1.9 million-euro signing bonus, the lawyer said.

The court said it would rule on the document issues after several weeks of additional arguments. A trial could be scheduled for later this year.


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