A human rights group affiliated with the United Nations claims the Japanese government should compensate former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn for actions related to his arrest and lengthy detention two years ago.
The United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called for Japan to offer “compensation” and “other reparations” to the Brazilian-born executive who is now essentially living in exile in Lebanon since his movie-style escape from the country earlier this year. It didn’t recommend how much the Japanese government should pay Ghosn.
Ghosn was arrested in November 2018 after his jet landed in Tokyo, eventually charged with crimes relating to the alleged hiding of millions of dollars in income. Japanese prosecutors, who boast a better than 99% conviction rate, kept the former CEO in a small concrete cell without heat, denied him access to family members while not actually charging him with any crimes until months after his arrest.
The group called for “full and independent investigation,” pushing the government “take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of (Ghosn’s) rights.” The 17-page opinion said reparations are justified, “in accordance with international law.”
While the panel was united in its decision about Japan depriving Ghosn of liberty, international law professor Roland Adjovi said it was not clear whether the case was handled arbitrarily. The findings will be referred to the U.N.’s rapporteur on torture and degrading treatment.
The opinion was issued less than two weeks after Nissan officials sued its former leader for $95 million and Ghosn release his new book, “Time for the Truth,” which chronicles what led to his arrest and his escape as well as his feeling about the entire affair.
“Time for the Truth” blames the “coup” on a cabal of “Old Nissan” insiders, including board member Masakazu Toyoda, as well Ghosn’s hand-picked successor as CEO, Hiroto Saikawa. It also points fingers at the Japanese and French governments. Ghosn contends officials in Tokyo went out of their way to support efforts to topple him, while claiming France opted for “appeasement,” rather than challenge the arrest in order to maintain the fragile Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
Ghosn did have kind words for a handful of others, including former Nissan executive Jose Munoz – now the vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, and Thierry Bollore, former head of Renault. Both came to his defense after Ghosn was arrested.
In an appearance on CNBC this week, Ghosn said he “probably never will go back to Japan” but would like to visit his native Brazil, as well as the U.S., where his children live. He also said he was “not very optimistic, knowing what I know” about the long-term future of his former company.
It’s a far cry from his initial relationship with the automaker. Ghosn was once viewed as a hero in Japan, in 1999 leading a $5 billion bailout of Nissan, the country’s second-largest automaker, by France’s Renault. He even became the star of a popular Japanese comic book.