Entrevista de Carlos Ghosn ao Asahi Shimbum: Parte 2
In proclaiming his innocence and defending his flight from Japan, Carlos Ghosn has said there was a conspiracy by Nissan Motor Co. executives, prosecutors and the Japanese government to bring him down.
While he repeated the names of the auto executives in his interview with The Asahi Shimbun, he declined to go into detail about the alleged plot that led to his arrest and his ouster as Nissan’s chairman.
However, he said other names will eventually be disclosed, and new information will be used to defend his name in court. But for now, “everybody is afraid” of the prosecutors.
Excerpts from the interview follow:
Q: After your Jan. 8 news conference, prosecutors issued a statement saying that you ignored your crime and just conducted a one-sided criticism of the Japanese system. They said it was “totally unacceptable.” What are your thoughts on their comments?
Ghosn: Their comments, frankly, I don’t care, because they lost credibility. For 14 months, they have been the only one to speak. I couldn’t speak. Since my arrest, prosecutors did all the talking.
Now, for the first time, I can speak. They say, “It’s one-sided.” For 14 months, they have been one-sided. Now, for two hours, I am speaking alone (at the news conference). I am one-sided? Come on, this is not serious.
The prosecutor when he talks about 99.4 percent (conviction rate in Japan) they say, “We are very proud because this means we are doing our job very well.” You are doing your job very well? You win 99.4 percent?
The defense are worms because if you win 99.4 against this, they’re going to win only 0.6 percent. They win in 99.4 percent of the cases because the system gives them a big advantage and no advantage to the defense.
Q:Their claim is that they choose only the real crimes and then they indict.
Ghosn: Oh, yeah. You see? That means from the beginning you’re guilty. (Prosecutors believe) “I’m so good I’ll fix you up, you’re guilty and I’m going to do everything to prove you’re guilty. But I am so proud of my 99.4 percent.” That’s the problem.
The prosecutor should look for the truth. And he should be rewarded when he discovers that the person is not guilty, which is not the case in Japan. The prosecutor says, “Now I have to prove, at all costs, that I’m right.”
Q:You strongly criticized the prosecutors for detaining you for 130 days, isn’t that right?
Q:They claimed that it was necessary because they saw a serious flight risk in you, and now that you have actually fled Japan, they say that it shows that they had a reason to do so.
Ghosn: Why that turned out is because they disgusted me about the system. They are responsible for me flying. Because they made me absolutely lose faith in any fair trial. They treated me in a way which is unacceptable, and they put me in a situation where I had no life, far from my family, far from my friends, far from my community, with no end in sight.
Prosecutors are very happy that I flew because they can say, “Oh, it justified what we said, he was a flight risk.” They are responsible for my escape because they made me lose any hope of getting a fair trial.
It’s a very vicious system where they’re not happy if the truth has been done. They are happy because they are right. That’s why the system is very devious.
Q: In the news conference, you named several people in Nissan involved in a conspiracy, but you didn’t really explain the details of it. Can you elaborate?
Ghosn:I cannot, because if I have to explain the details, I have to go to the (Japanese) government. I would have to talk about the links inside.
Q: Are you saying the government is somehow involved?
Ghosn: Yes, sure. That’s why I don’t want to get involved in that. I cannot tell the whole story. But these people, in my opinion, played a very dirty role in this.
(Outside director Masakazu) Toyoda, (former President Hiroto) Saikawa, (Senior Vice President) Hari Nada, (former executive vice president Tsuyoshi) Kawaguchi, (former auditor Hidetoshi) Imazu, and I can give you more names. There are more people involved. And it’s not a very beautiful story.
Saikawa made a statement yesterday, “Ghosn betrayed me a second time.” Oh, my God! In terms of betrayal, he’s a professor of a high degree in betrayal.
Q:If you name these people, and actually their names came out in our paper yesterday, don’t you think you are responsible to show some evidence?
Ghosn: They talked about me in the press. They accused me of a lot of things. Saikawa even said I don’t like Japan, my children don’t like Japan, and it was a disgrace. Why I should be restrained when they are being so talkative? Why? I’m just giving back what they said.
From now on, any statement from their part, I will answer. No more silence. Everything we’ll be answering.
They are responsible for the company and they have a huge responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of people who are working with Nissan. They didn’t respect the brand, the company or the shareholders. They are just caring about squaring with me because they don’t want to lose face. And this is a disgrace.
Now they have the responsibility of the company and the shareholders. I wonder how the shareholders of Nissan are seeing their shares going from 1,005 yen when I was arrested to (about) 630 now. I think they’re going to continue to go down when the performance of the company goes down. This is their responsibility.
Q:What was your intention in naming the Nissan executives?
Ghosn: I said very clearly, the problem is they would say, “Ghosn went into the press conference; he didn’t say anything.” I wanted to say something.
Q: Do you think that in the near future you will have the opportunity to go into details of this story in court?
Ghosn: I will. It will be in front of a court, and we’re going to have to defend my name. I’m going to give you more elements and more names. Now that I’m out, I can contact people and ask them to tell the truth.
But, for the moment, everybody is afraid, and the prosecutor enjoyed a big strength because they are the prosecutor; everybody’s afraid. There was no opposition, nobody in front of (the prosecutors). Now they have somebody in front of them, and I want to encourage people to tell the truth.
Q:You stressed that the charges against you are baseless. You showed some evidence on the screen but it was not enough to convince people that you are really innocent.
Ghosn: I totally agree, and that will be available. We’re looking about how we’re going to make these documents available. My intention was not to give you a lecture on legal documents. When I asked the press to ask questions, nobody asked me a question about this; they asked questions about something else. That’s why I did not dig more deeper into this.
My intention is to be very open and to let you consult the documents, except that these documents are complicated documents. These documents, if I was in Japan, I cannot share them with you. I want you to see them so you can see the double game played.
Q:First of all, as far as the accusation of the under-reporting of your remuneration, the prosecutors argued that you confirmed the exact amount of compensation every year, and the payment in the future was promised by that document, which was signed by you and by Saikawa.
Ghosn: Saikawa never signed any document. If I signed a letter to myself, where Mr. Ghosn, CEO, promised to Mr. Ghosn, employee, and said, “By the way, Mr. Ghosn, I have the pleasure to tell you that you’re going to receive, in five years, $1 billion.”
Q:So, it was not binding?
Ghosn: Oh, come on! How can it be binding?
Q:Why did you make that kind of document, which is not binding?
Ghosn: I kept a memo or a kind of a document if one day I need to justify something or negotiate something. Professors of law considered that as long as no member of the board has seen these documents, signed these documents, these documents are not valid. If it was an immediate payment, fine. We’re talking about future payment.
Q:Regarding the accusation concerning the investment contract with Shinsei Bank, are you arguing there was no problem because a resolution had been passed by the Nissan board?
Ghosn: There was a board resolution and there was no loss.
Q:But prosecutors are claiming that you hid from the board your intention to change the contractor of the investment from you to Nissan. What do you say to that?
Q: It was the core of the situation, but you hid it from the board members.
Ghosn: Yeah, but this is a crime? It’s at no cost to the company.
Q:Prosecutors argue that even if there was no loss to Nissan, it is still a crime.
Ghosn: I’m not going to get into a consensus with the prosecutor, that’s for sure. But my point is to tell you there is another story. Please do not follow blindly what the prosecutor says.