After Carlos Ghosn, the Chairman of Renault and Nissan, was arrested in November 2018, the company ordered an internal investigation into his alleged financial misconduct. Ravinder Passi, a reputed solicitor who had been working for Nissan for many years, was part of the team. Netflix’s ‘Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn’ highlights what Ravinder claimed to find during his investigation and his eventual ousting from the company. So, let’s find out more about what happened then, shall we?
Who is Ravinder Passi?
Ravinder Passi was born to first-generation immigrants in Leicester, England. His mother raised him, and after working hard through school and college, he secured a job with Nissan. Ravinder eventually became their Global General Counsel in 2015 and moved to Japan. Hari Nada, a senior vice president at the company, was his mentor and instrumental in his move to the company’s headquarters.
In November 2018, Carlos was taken into custody in Japan after being accused of financial misconduct. It was later revealed that senior executives lured him to Japan for the arrest to take place, with Ravinder being one of the few to have known beforehand. He said, “I was called into Hari Nada’s office…and told there was going to be a dramatic arrest. Arranged for maximum publicity. When you lie to someone to get them back into a particular jurisdiction so that you can have them arrested in a very public manner, that says a lot about what’s going on.”
Nissan ordered an internal probe of the matter, and Ravinder was asked to assist in leading the audit. However, the investigation led Ravinder to notice some egregious conflicts of interest when it came to some of the key executives. According to him, the financial documents that the prosecution claimed were illegal were drawn up by Hari, who took an immunity deal for his cooperation. Furthermore, the then-CEO, Hiroto Saikawa, had signed documents that were claimed to be illegal.
Ravinder said, “The alarm bells were going off straight away. Anyone who is involved in the underlying activity is supposed to be excluded from the investigation – not put in charge of it.” He also claimed that the media leaks showing Carlos in an unfavorable light came from the CEO’s office. Ravinder initially worried about what would happen to him if he spoke out about what he had learned.
But eventually, Ravinder alerted the head of the audit committee and, in September 2019, wrote a memo detailing his concerns to the independent directors on the company’s board. However, he claimed that no action was taken, and consequences followed for him within days of submitting the letter. Ravinder stated that he was removed from the Carlos investigation and shut out of board meetings.
Then, Ravinder lost his large legal team working worldwide and was named the vice president of projects and transformation instead. Later, Ravinder talked about him and his family being surveilled by security teams. He believed it started in March 2020 and said, “This is just not normal behavior. This is a car company. This is not the KGB.” A few months later, the authorities raided his home in Japan to seize his laptop and phone.
Where is Ravinder Passi Today?
Ravinder and his family were sent back to the UK in June 2020, and the company dismissed him in November of that year. He filed two tribunal claims against Nissan in the UK and claimed that the company wrongfully fired him after talking about his concerns regarding the internal investigation. In November 2021, Nissan claimed that Ravinder didn’t return confidential documents despite being asked to do so.
Ravinder later admitted to retaining some documents for legal counsel. In February 2022, he was asked to return them to the company. He currently lives in the UK with his wife, Sonia, and their four daughters, three of whom were born in Japan. In May 2021, he became a trustee at Protect, a whistleblowing charity. Ravinder maintained that his experience with Nissan was surreal and added, “I highlighted serious issues and faced retaliation, bullying, and harassment, including intimidation of my wife and four children. This is not how an ethical and responsible organization behaves.”
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