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April 10, 2019

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Backstabbers brought me down: Ghosn

A DEFIANT Carlos Ghosn accused “backstabbing” former colleagues of conspiring to oust him as Nissan chairman and threatening the Japanese automaker’s future, in a video marking his first public address since his arrest last year.

Prosecutors took the highly unusual step of re-arresting Ghosn last Thursday on fresh allegations that he used company funds to enrich himself by US$5 million. The once-feted executive, who had been out on US$9 million bail for 30 days, recorded the video the day before he went back to jail.

In the video, shown to reporters by his lawyers in Tokyo, the former Nissan Motor Co chairman said he was the victim of selfish rivals bent on derailing a closer alliance between the automaker and French partner Renault.

“This is not about greed or dictatorship, this is about a plot, this is about a conspiracy, this is about a backstabbing,” Ghosn said.

“I am innocent of all the charges that have been brought against me,” he said, without explaining.

Wearing a dark jacket and a white shirt, Ghosn sat at a desk as he looked into the camera and spoke in a calm voice. His hair appeared grayer and his face thinner than before his arrest in November.

The video, and comments by his lawyer Junichiro Hironaka alleging harsh treatment by prosecutors against Ghosn and his wife, Carole, cast Ghosn as the victim of internal rivalries and a Japanese judicial system bent on forcing a confession.

The seven-minute clip was, however, edited by his legal team to remove the names of people Ghosn accused of treachery due to legal concerns.

The conspiracy, Ghosn said, was born out of fear that he would bring Nissan closer to Renault, also its top shareholder.

“There was fear that the next step of the alliance in terms of convergence and in terms of moving toward a merger, would in a certain way threaten some people or eventually threaten the autonomy of Nissan,” he said.

Ghosn also took aim at Nissan’s current management, blaming them for three profit warnings and a domestic scandal involving improper vehicle inspections since his departure as CEO in 2017.


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