Carlos Ghosn, the former head of Nissan, has fled from Japan reportedly to escape criminal prosecution. Reports indicate he made his way to Lebanon and from there possibly Turkey, instead of staying in the Asian nation as directed by the government. To say this is an unexpected turn of events would be accurate.
Ghosn not too long ago was at the head of Nissan and sister company Renault, sitting atop one of the greatest automotive empires in the world. In a flash, that was over and he was arrested upon arriving in Japan, charged with financial crimes. This all happened in November 2018, so for over a year he was kept on the island nation, awaiting a possibly stiff prison sentence.
It’s possible his escape from Japan could cause an international situation. There have been tensions simmering between the French government, which has a large stake in Renault, and the Japanese government ever since Ghosn was arrested. Reports that Ghosn fled Japan for fear he wouldn’t get a fair trial is only going to make things worse.
Even more importantly to the automotive world, this fiasco with Ghosn could provide Nissan with just the leverage it needs to wrench away from the vice grip Renault put it in so long ago. While some welcomed the financial stability and other resources provided by the partnership with the French automaker, it’s become obvious many inside Nissan now resent the greater control exerted by the much smaller company. The fact Nissan has been suffering a sales slump and other challenges is likely fueling the bad blood between the two automakers.
While the Renault Nissan Alliance is twisted up in all kinds of messy legalities, we might see the undoing of that partnership in the near future. What that means for Nissan and its presence in the United States market is a mystery.