Carlos Ghosn’s wealth and power made it ‘easy for him to flee’ Japan, prosecutors say. Meet Nissan’s disgraced former chairman, who reportedly escaped to Lebanon by stowing away in a box for musical instruments.

Carlos Ghosn has fled prosecution in Japan, storing himself away in a box designed for musical instruments on a private jet on December 30, according to media reports.

Ghosn said in a statement that he would “no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied.”

The former Nissan CEO was awaiting trial in Japan on financial-misconduct charges and had been forbidden from leaving the country as a part of $13 million bail agreement. Prosecutors in Japan have alleged that Ghosn earned a salary of about 10 billion yen, or $88.7 million, from 2011 to 2015 but reported only half of that. Ghosn, who is 64, could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 10 million yen if found to have committed wrongdoing.

Keep reading to learn more about the rise and downfall of Carlos Ghosn.


Ghosn was named COO of Nissan in 1999 and later CEO in 2001 after the Renault-Nissan Alliance was formed. In 2016, Mitsubishi joined. The three act as separate entities, while also identifying as a global grouping.

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Antonio RIBEIRO/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Source: BBC


Ghosn was known for his cost-cutting methods — closing factories and cutting jobs while increasing profits and output. Nissan quickly surpassed Honda as the No. 2 automaker in Japan under Ghosn’s leadership …

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YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

Source: BBC, The New York Times


… for which he was greatly compensated. According to BBC’s review of company records, Ghosn made over $17 million in 2017 in salary, share options and bonuses. As company success grew, so did Ghosn’s net worth. As of 2018, his net worth was around $120 million.

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Bryan Mitchell/Getty Images

Source: BBC, Bloomberg


Ghosn flew around the world using a series of Nissan-owned Gulfstream private jets, including a G650, which can seat up to 19 passengers, sleep up to 10, fly more than 8,000 miles, and can cost more than $67 million.

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A Gulfstream G550 similar to the aircraft used by Nissan.
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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

As chairman of Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi – three car companies on two continents halfway around the world from one another – Ghosn spent a considerable amount of time flying on Nissan’s corporate jets between France and Japan. He also had frequent stopovers in the United States, Brazil, and Lebanon.

Source: Business Insider


According to a report from Bloomberg, Nissan paid over 8,000 euros a month for an Amsterdam apartment that was used exclusively by Ghosn.

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Shutterstock/S-F

Source: Bloomberg


And in Beirut, Nissan reportedly paid nearly $9 million in 2012 for a salmon-colored mansion for Ghosn to live in when he traveled.

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Shutterstock/Iryna1

Source: Bloomberg, The New York Times


In Tokyo, Nissan paid nearly $9,000 a month for Ghosn and family to live in a flat for only a “few days each month on average.” But then, all of a sudden, Ghosn’s world came crashing down.

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An apartment building where Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn is believed to have a residence.
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MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

Nissan would soon begin seizing keys and blocking access from six of its properties frequented by Ghosn and his family.

Source: Bloomberg


On November 19, 2018, prosecutors surrounded Ghosn’s Gulfstream after it touched down in Japan. Prosecutors alleged that Ghosn hid his earnings from Nissan filings for years.

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A Gulfstream G550 similar to the aircraft used by Nissan for Ghosn. Ghosn’s jet not pictured.
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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Source: The New York Times


On November 19, 2018, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa confirmed the arrest of Ghosn after a months-long investigation into alleged financial crimes, like underreporting compensation to regulators. The Nissan board voted just two days later to remove Ghosn from his position as chairman.

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REUTERS/Issei Kato

Source: Bloomberg


A week after Ghosn’s arrest, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Osamu Masuko announced the company would be ousting Ghosn from his role, too.

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Osamu Masuko holds a press conference after a board meeting at the Mitsubishi Motor headquarters in Tokyo.
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MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Bloomberg


Ghosn was reportedly kept in the same facility that previously housed death-row inmates and given limited access to the outside world. Reports indicate that he was allowed to bathe twice a week and had 30 minutes a day of exercise.

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A general view of the Tokyo detention house where Ghosn was held
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MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Bloomberg


In a January 2019 court hearing, Ghosn denied any wrongdoing on his behalf, and said he was “wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations.” The next day his detention appeal was denied.

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A court sketch shows Ghosn making a statement during the open hearing at the Tokyo District Court on January 8, 2019.
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Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images

Source: Bloomberg


On January 23, Ghosn resigned as chairman and chief executive officer of Renault, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire told Bloomberg Television in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

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STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Reuters, Bloomberg


Bloomberg reported in February that Ghosn may have used Renault funds inappropriately to “pay for his wedding party at the Chateau de Versailles” — marking the first indecency reported by the company toward its former head executive.

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Carlos and wife Carole Ghosn.
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Dominique Charriau/WireImage

Source: Town and Country Magazine, Bloomberg


At the end of February, Ghosn hired lawyer Junichiro Hironaka, who said Ghosn’s arrest was a result of a conspiracy inside Nissan. Hironaka said he believes Ghosn is innocent.

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BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

“The prosecutors have made a criminal case out of an issue that should have been handled inside the company,” said Hironaka at a press conference.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


In March, Ghosn, wearing blue workman’s clothes and a baseball cap, was released after 108 days in a Japanese jail and after paying a nearly $9 million bail.

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Reuters

Source: Business Insider


According to The Wall Street Journal, Ghosn went to a court-approved residence in Tokyo. A trial was said to be happening later in 2018.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


He was forbidden from contact with anyone outside of the country by phone or computer. “I am extremely grateful for my family and friends who have stood by me throughout this terrible ordeal,” Ghosn said in a statement released in March.

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Ghosn sits in a vehicle as he leaves his lawyer’s office in Tokyo, Japan on March 6, 2019.
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KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Ghosn was rearrested on April 4 on new charges and then released on a $4.5 million bail later that month.

Source: Business Insider


Nissan is now struggling. In July, the automaker announced that it will cut at least 12,500 jobs — about 9% of its total workforce.

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A line worker checks frames for imperfections at Nissan Motor Co’s automobile manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. Affected workers not pictured.
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Reuters

Source: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal


Ghosn and Nissan settled their case with the SEC on September 24. The company will pay a $15 million fine, and Ghosn himself will pay $1 million, the Times reported.

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A general exterior view of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) building in Washington, June 24, 2011.
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REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Source: The New York Times


Hari Nada, the Nissan senior vice president who reported Ghosn and is set to testify against Ghosn in a Japanese trial, was found to have also improperly overpaid himself during an investigation by an outside law firm on October 7.

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The logos of car manufacturers Renault and Nissan are seen in front of dealerships of the companies in Reims.
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Reuters

Source: Bloomberg


On December 30, 2018, Ghosn fled to Lebanon from Japan, violating the terms of his bail agreement. Media reports said he hid in a box designed for musical instruments on board a private jet. Ghosn said in a statement that he had “escaped injustice and political persecution” in Japan.

Source: Business Insider


Ghosn is now believed to be hiding out in his home in Beirut, Lebanon, where he has citizenship. On January 2, Interpol issued a warrant for Ghosn’s arrest, but Lebanese officials have not said if they will take action.

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Passers-by and Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) officers pictured outside the house of Carlos Ghosn in Ashrafieh on December 31, 2019 in Beirut, Lebanon.
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Jacob Russell/Getty Images

Source: Reuters


In their first public statement after Ghosn’s escape, Japanese prosecutors said it was “easy for him to flee” because of his wealth and power. Prosecutors said they also feared that Ghosn would destroy evidence and defended their decision to detain him for months after his initial arrest.

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Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn leaves the Tokyo Detention House.
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Reuters

Source: The Guardian