Very quickly after the arrest of Carlos Ghosn and Greg Kelly, Hiroto Saikawa, CEO of Nissan, holds a press conference until late at night on 19 November 2018 at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama. That follows a press release from the Company confirming the arrests of Carlos Ghosn and Greg Kelly.
Carlos Ghosn and Greg Kelly were arrested for the sole reason of having “worked together to underreport income” received by Carlos Ghosn between 2011 and 2015.
However, during the press conference, Hiroto Saikawa explains that an internal investigation at Nissan has been undertaken based on information provided by whistleblowers. The results of this internal investigation have been shared with the Japanese judiciary.
This internal investigation revealed that, as regards Carlos Ghosn, “several other significant errors were discovered, such as the personal use of company assets”.
But, when questioned repeatedly during the press conference for more information about these other revelations, Hiroto Saikawa states publicly to the journalists every time that he cannot provide further details.
This internal investigation is a central element in the Carlos Ghosn case. Over several months, until the end of 2019, Nissan continues to use this investigation as the basis for all of its accusations.
From 19 November 2018, Hiroto Saikawa acknowledges that Carlos Ghosn was not spoken to as part of this investigation and that it was sent directly to the Tokyo prosecutor.
The numerous twists and turns reveal that neither Renault, nor even the board members of Nissan had full access to the reports. Furthermore, it is on the basis of this investigation that other directors of Nissan, including Hiroto Saikawa himself, are accused and removed from the company, after receiving too much remuneration (in comparison to the undeclared income of Carlos Ghosn, which relates to unpaid amounts).
Moreover, after the images of the staged arrest, the baseless accusations of the CEO of Nissan are taken up by the media. This is the starting point for a campaign, which involves drip-feeding information to different parts of the media in order to destroy Carlos Ghosn’s reputation.
Indeed, an article by NHK bylined by the journalist Kamata Tomoko, political correspondent for NHK, indicates that, according to sources, “Nissan Motor provided to its chairman houses in four countries without any legitimate commercial reason. The sources confirm that the houses are located in Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Amsterdam and Beirut”.
Media outlets around the world spread the accusations of Hiroto Saikawa. The CEO of Nissan is referred to in media reports as Brutus, who, after having carefully destroyed the reputation of Carlos Ghosn, announces that Carlos Ghosn will be dismissed when the board of Nissan meets.
An announcement that contravenes basic corporate governance principles by pre-empting a decision that belongs to the board of directors.