Ghosn Faces Nissan in Dutch Court for First Time Since Escape

Carlos Ghosn, former Nissan CEO, gestures as he speaks to media in Lebanon on Jan. 8.
Carlos Ghosn, former Nissan CEO, gestures as he speaks to media in Lebanon on Jan. 8. (Hasan Shaaban/Bloomberg News)

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Carlos Ghosn’s lawyers faced off with Nissan Motor Co. 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 Feb. 10, 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 a March report on internal governance 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.

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“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, however, 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.

“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.

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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