Former Nissan Motor Co Ltd (OTC: NSANY) Chairman Carlos Ghosn said Wednesday he fled Japan because he wouldn't have received a fair trial on corruption charges, blamed Nissan officials for getting him arrested and compared his seizure to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in his first remarks since escaping to Lebanon.
"I did not escape justice. I fled injustice and political persecution," Ghosn said during a long news conference in Beirut, adding he was "resigned to impossibility of fair trial" in Japan.
"Let’s not forget I was facing a system where the conviction rate is 99.4% and you can bet the number is higher for foreigners."
Ghosn fled house arrest in Tokyo late last month in an escape that seems taken from a movie plot. He was reportedly smuggled aboard a plane inside a large case meant for musical equipment. Ghosn didn't comment on the details of the escape.
Ghosn had run Nissan until his arrest by Japanese officials on fraud charges in November 2018. He denies the charges.
Ghosn said the case against him was planted by "unscrupulous, vindictive individuals at Nissan" in a plot to prevent a more complete alliance with partner company Renault SA of France.
Ghosn alleged he was questioned up to eight hours a day, describing his treatment as "brutal," and compared the conduct of Japanese police to Japan's attack on the United States in 1941.
"People say, 'you didn’t look at this, you didn’t suspect this?' It was a colleague in the U.S. who said 'did you see Pearl Harbor?' I didn’t notice it because it was planned and confidential and secret."
Nissan Continues To Struggle
Nissan is still struggling to recover from the turmoil of the Ghosn downfall, as well as lingering issues from his time at the company, Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive, said Wednesday morning on Benzinga's PreMarket Prep.
Nissan's U.S. operations discounted heavily when other automakers weren't, and overrelied on dealer incentives, among "a lot of bad practices," that hurt the brand in the U.S, she said.
"They’ve got to do a lot of damage control to unwind a lot of that, and that’s not going to happen in a year."
Screenshot from Bloomberg video on YouTube.