Wearing dark overalls, a blue baseball cap and a paper face mask, former Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn exits the Japanese detention centre where he has been locked up for 108 days, slipping past the media scrum like a scene in a Hollywood heist.
Escorted into a silver Suzuki work van with an entourage of disguised prison guards surrounding him, the Frenchman makes his escape – almost.
Carlos Ghosn: the rise and fall of "Le Cost Killer"
Most of the media waiting outside missed the chance to capture the man behind one of Japan’s biggest stories of corporate misconduct, but a few eagle eye snappers caught the disgraced former boss in all his undignified glory. It was a failed plan, and Ghosn’s new star defence lawyer Takashi Takano later confessed, “as a result of my juvenile plan, the reputation he built up over a lifetime was smeared with mud.”
However, Takano, Japan’s most respected defence lawyer who is a staunch critic of the tough Japanese justice system, might be the only man in the country who can help Ghosn. Before his release, the disgraced chairman had his application for bail denied, twice. His third attempt was successful, on a bond of $12.5 million and thanks to the newly hired ace.
Takano had to negotiate hard with both Ghosn and the Japanese legal system, agreeing on terms that see the Frenchman restricted to a meek lifestyle, but one that now lets him live with his family.
Under 24-hour surveillance and effective house arrest in a Tokyo residence like a modern-day Rapunzel, Ghosn only leaves his wife and daughter to see Takano, where he is also allowed restricted access to the internet and all of his movements and interests are under the scrupulous watch of Japanese authorities.
Likewise, his mobile phone is restricted to critical calls, and the former Renault boss who still remains on the company’s board, is not allowed to make any contact with members at Nissan.
Ghosn says that the lengthy trail in front of him, where he faces three charges relating to fraud and dishonourable conduct, are “plot and treason” against him by Nissan, to stop his aggressive plan to gain control of the Japanese giant.
Indeed, the manufacturer has found a more appreciable balance in the newly formed board of the existing alliance, announced this week.
Bailed from bankruptcy in 1999, Nissan has Renault to thank for its revival to power. But the Japanese maker has been looking to breakaway from Renault’s clutch since Ghosn integrated the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance as a global company under a joint venture led by himself.
The new board consists of Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, Renault CFO Thierry Bolloré, and Mitsubishi chief executive Osamu Masuko. In a statement, the Alliance explained that the new structure will be fairer.
“The operating decisions taken by the Alliance Board will be consensus-based, furthering the Alliance’s “win-win” approach.
“The creation of the new Alliance operating board is designed to help Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors become what they can be together – the top organization in the rapidly changing and highly competitive global auto market.”
It appears that all parties are satisfied, except for Ghosn, who will likely fade into existence until the gavel knocks.