Former Renault-Nissan executive Carlos Ghosn may have felt his legal issues abating with his escape to Lebanon from Japan; however, he may be seeing more problems in the near future as French authorities are investigating him for tax evasion.
Ghosn, who was head of Renault SA before it acquired Nissan Motor Co., is reportedly engaged with French tax officials about whether or not he was a French resident from 2016 to 2018, according to Bloomberg News.
The former top executive allegedly declared he’d moved to the Netherlands in 2012, thus making him a non-resident, the website noted. The dispute came to a head when a French judge permitted authorities to seize $16 million in assets from Ghosn and his wife, Carole, as the investigation continued.
Ghosn said the move to the Netherlands was done intentionally to show critics that the Brazilian-born CEO of Lebanese descent – which is where is living now as his battle with the Japanese and now French governments continue – was a neutral player while leading the French-Japanese automaker, that later added a third auto company, Mitsubishi.
Many within Nissan believed he was biased toward Renault, fearing he would always make Nissan – on the brink of insolvency at the time of the merger with the French automaker – subservient to European company. It was one of the reasons, Ghosn alleges for his ouster and what he views as bogus charges against him Japan.
The tax issues and probe are not the only ones in France as authorities have been looking into expenses paid by Renault and the Dutch subsidiary overseeing the alliance with Nissan, Bloomberg reported. If the charges sound familiar, perhaps they should.
Among other things, Ghosn has been accused by Japanese prosecutors of hiding 9.3 billion yen, or $88.6 million, in pay, while also transferring some of his personal financial losses to Nissan. He also has been charged with using a $5 million deal with a Mideast car dealership to personally enrich himself.
In a counter-statement, Ghosn said, the “civil lawsuit is an extension to the extremely unreasonable internal investigation with sinister intent by a portion of Nissan’s senior management and the unreasonable arrests and indictments by the public prosecutors.”
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. But following his arrest, which occurred at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport shortly after Ghosn arrived on his corporate jet, his life has been in crisis.
He spent much of the first half of 2019 in the Tokyo Detention Center in a tiny, unheated cell. When finally released on bail, Ghosn’s travel was severely restricted and he was barred from meeting with his son and wife. He could only access the internet while at his lawyer’s office.