Ghosn described being treated “like a terrorist” during his interrogation, which he said was “designed” to break his spirit.
He said: “I’ve spent the previous months being interrogated up to eight hours a day with no lawyers present. ‘It will get worse for you if you don’t confess’, they say – and this was recorded. ‘If you confess it will be over, and if you don’t confess, we will go after your family’.”
Ghosn added that his family – including his wife Carole, for whom the Japanese government has issued an arrest warrant – were subjected to “media attacks orchestrated by Japanese prosecutors and Nissan executives”.
Japanese prosecution is a “system indifferent to truth”
Ghosn railed against the Japanese prosecution team during his hour-long statement to the media, claiming he had no chance of a fair trial when there is a 99.4% conviction rate in Japan’s justice system.
He claimed he was the victim of an “anachronistic and inhuman system of hostage justice” and has yet to be given any idea of a trial date, despite 14 months of detention. Ghosn says his lawyers hinted it could be at least five years before he faces a trial. “I pleaded my innocence,” he said. “The feeling of hopelessness was profound.”
The prosecution team were accused of breaking the law “at least ten times” during his arrest period, primarily by leaking information to the media.
Ghosn said it was clear during his pre-trial sessions that “the prosecutor was the boss”, despite the presence of three respected judges in the courtroom.
Nissan executives were “petty, vindictive, lawless criminals”
While Ghosn refused to name figures within the Japanese government who conspired with Nissan executives and prosecutors, he did name three senior figures within Nissan. He described them as “unscrupulous and vindictive individuals”, as well as “petty, vindictive, lawless criminals”.
“The collusion between Nissan and the prosecutors is everywhere; the only people who don’t see this are, perhaps, people in Japan,” he said.
Ghosn hypothesised multiple reasons why his former company would conspire against him, including Nissan’s declining market performance in 2017 and 2018 and anger in Japan that Renault, with backing from the French state, had more voting rights over decisions to more closely link the three Alliance companies: Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi.
By becoming chairman of the board at Mitsubishi in 2016, he decided to remove himself from the daily operation at Nissan in 2017 while remaining chairman. Hiroto Saikawa, one of the individuals Ghosn continually referred to in a negative light during the conference, took over the role, but it’s alleged that executives continued to pin Nissan’s poor performance on Ghosn.
“Bitterness” from Japanese executives meant “they thought the only way to get rid of the influence of Renault on Nissan was to get rid of me”, said Ghosn. “They thought it would give them much more autonomy at Nissan.”
Ghosn claims he has all the evidence and all the documents to prove his innocence of the charges – which include underreporting his income and transferring personal investment losses – with his lawyers. “All my bank accounts have been swept,” he said, “so if there was any payment, it would be front page news of the Nikkei.”