Starting in the late 1990s, Carlos Ghosn became a powerful executive responsible for the turnaround of two famous automobile companies, Renault and Nissan. But then everything came crashing down in November 2018 when he was arrested in Japan at the heels of serious accusations of financial misconduct. Netflix’s ‘Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn’ as well as Apple TV+’s ‘Wanted: The Escape Of Carlos Ghosn’ thus focuses on what happened to him in the aftermath. So, if you’re curious about his current standing, here’s what we know.
Who is Carlos Ghosn?
Although Carlos Ghosn was born in 1954 in Brazil, he relocated to Lebanon when he was around six; he was raised there and later studied in France. Then, upon graduating as an engineer from the École Polytechnique in 1974 and the École des Mines de Paris in 1978, he joined the automotive industry. He actually spent nearly two decades working at Michelin before moving to Renault in 1996. There, he revitalized the struggling firm and was seen as a ruthless enforcer who closed factories and cut jobs, ultimately resulting in the company doing better.
Carlos was also a part of the driving force behind the Renault-Nissan alliance, following which he saved the Japanese automotive manufacturer from potential bankruptcy by essentially doing what he did at Renault. This original collaboration was forged in 1999, with Mitsubishi joining in 2016. At that time, he unquestionably held tremendous power within the two companies, serving as CEO turned Chairman and the head of the alliance.
However, in November 2018, Carlos was taken into custody after landing in Tokyo, Japan. He claimed to have been told there was a problem with his visa once he arrived in his private jet and was picked up by a car. Though within hours, this executive was put in solitary confinement and accused of financial crimes. The authorities in the nation eventually believed he paid millions to a Nissan distributor in Oman and retained them for personal use.
Nissan also accused Carlos of using company money to buy a yacht and homes and pay for vacations. Moreover, he allegedly underreported his salary by $44 million. His legal troubles continued when the French began wondering whether he misused Renault’s money too, especially to throw a supposed Renault-Nissan alliance celebration party on his wife’s birthday at the Palace of Versailles in 2016. Then, in September 2019, he settled with the SEC in the United States regarding non-disclosure of finances, paying a fine of $1 million yet not admitting wrongdoing.
In Japan, Carlos remained under custody for more than 100 days, later claiming that he was placed in a small cell and questioned daily. According to him, the prosecutors tried to force a confession out of him by going as far as to threaten his family. He was allowed bail but then re-arrested a short while later. Carlos eventually received bail for good with the stipulation of not having any contact with his family. However, everything changed on December 29, 2019.
Sometime in the afternoon, Carlos left home, visited a hotel, and met two men. They were ex-US Special Forces Michael Taylor and his associate George Zayek – though the former’s son Peter Taylor was also allegedly involved. The trio then took a train to Osaka and checked into another hotel. Thus began the next phase of Carlos’ unexpected escape from Japan – he was placed in a music box and was to be taken to the airport, where a private jet was waiting.
Carlos later said, “When you get in the box, you don’t think about the past, you don’t think about the future, you just think about the moment. You’re not afraid; you don’t have any emotion except the huge concentration on ‘this is your chance, you can’t miss it. If you miss it, you’re going to pay with your life, with the life of a hostage in Japan.'” In the end, the two men posed as musicians as they loaded the box onto the jet; the idea was all reportedly Michael’s.
The group made it past the security, and Carlos stated, “The plane was scheduled to take off at 11 PM [but it didn’t]. The 30 minutes waiting in the box on the plane, waiting for it to take off, was probably the longest wait I’ve ever experienceed in my life.” He was flown to Turkey before he took another plane to his homeland Beirut, Lebanon, where he relatively quickly held a press conference defending his actions.
Where is Carlos Ghosn Today?
Carlos actually denied all charges against him by outrightly stating, “I have not fled justice – I have escaped injustice and political persecution. I can now finally communicate freely with the media, and I look forward to starting next week.” He then claimed that Nissan’s old-ways senior executives, legal prosecutors, as well as government members were purposefully causing his downfall as they didn’t want a proposed merger between Renault and Nissan to happen. He also criticized the Japanese judicial system, calling it rigged.
In the months following Carlos’ escape, Interpol issued a red notice for his arrest. He has continued to maintain his innocence and claimed that he had proof, adding that executives at Nissan signed off on whatever transactions he made. Therefore, today, the 69-year-old remains in Lebanon alongside his family; a country that does not have an extradition treaty with Japan or France. We mention France because, in April 2022, even this nation issued an international arrest warrant against the legal French, Brazilian, and Lebanese citizen.
It’s imperative to note that Carlos is looking forward to a trial to clear his name, but he wants it to be either in Lebanon or a place where there won’t be any bias. He said, “I want to stand trial because that’s the only way I can get rid of the Red Notice, which today forbids me from leaving Lebanon.” In addition, this former executive has published a book about what happened and has a whole website dedicated to providing regarding his case. In August 2020, his house was damaged after an explosion in Beirut, though it was reported that the family was safe.
Yet most recently, in June 2023, Carlos filed a lawsuit in Lebanon against Nissan plus others for $1 billion, accusing the company as well as a few individuals of defamation, slander, libel, and fabrication of material evidence, amongst other crimes. He said it took him over three years to take this step because he wanted his case to be as solid as possible based on evidence, facts, and witnesses, but had he been an American citizen filing in the US, “I would not be asking for $1 billion, but for much more [for my suffering]… this is the beginning of the fight.”