No one has the details of why Renault-Nissan head Carlos Ghosn was arrested - but here are the main theories
- Carlos Ghosn, the architect of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, was arrested in Japan last week.
- Nissan alleged that he had engaged in years of financial misconduct.
- He has yet to be charged.
- Ghosn is an auto-industry legend, and if he falls, it would the most spectacular demise in the history of the car business.
Last week, the auto industry was rocked to its core when legendary executive Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan.
Ghosn, 64, was chairman and CEO of Renault, chairman of Nissan, chairman of Mitsubishi, and the architect of a tripartite alliance that in 2017 was the world's biggest automaker by sales.
Ghosn was a celebrity CEO, a Brazilian-born leader of Lebanese descent who came of age in France. In the early 2000s, Ghosn took charge at the newly formed Renault-Nissan alliance and steered the two automakers toward revival and global dominance, competing in numerous markets and challenging General Motors, Toyota, and Volkswagen.
He was feted in Japan, where, as an outsider, he broke into that country's insular auto industry. As with the late Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne, his every utterance was closely followed on the worldwide car circuit. He was wildly successful, risk-taking, borderline arrogant and at-times despotic, but also considered incredibly wise.
Following his arrest, Nissan revealed that it has passed along a whistleblower tip to the Japanese authorities, leading to allegations that Ghosn had been detained in Japan due to financial misdeeds and fraud. Auto executives have fallen before, but none were as big as Ghosn, and none had enjoyed such long careers at the top.
Lacking official charges - Japan can hold Ghosn for 20 days before any sort of indictment - plenty of theories have developed about what he actually did or didn't do. Here's a roundup:
Ghosn did everything he's been accused of.
The palace coup theory.
Ghosn had been doing everything he was accused, but Nissan always looked the other way.
Nissan is sick of Renault and the French government and wants out out the the alliance.
Ghosn as Nissan Chairman was exercising too much power behind the scenes.
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