Carlos Ghosn ordered to repay £4.3m to Nissan and Mitsubishi

Carlos Ghosn, the fugitive automotive executive, has been ordered to repay £4.3m to Nissan and Mitsubishi by a Dutch court after he failed in the first step in a legal claim.

Ghosn led the Japanese carmaker Nissan and France’s Renault in an alliance, before falling from grace spectacularly. At the end of 2018 he was arrested by prosecutors in Tokyo, charged with concealing his income, but fled to Lebanon a year later.

The alliance, which Japan’s Mitsubishi also joined, was at one point the world’s second-largest carmaker by volume, and Ghosn was one of the most prominent and outspoken leaders in the global industry.

Ghosn had asked an Amsterdam court to overturn his sacking after his initial arrest by a Dutch company that formed part of the alliance. Ghosn claimed that he was wrongfully dismissed by a joint venture, Nissan-Mitsubishi BV (NMBV), and that he was therefore owed €15m (£13m) in compensation because of lost wages and severance payments.

However, the court found that Ghosn did not have a valid contract with the company, and said he must repay nearly €5m in salary he received during 2018.

The court found that Ghosn had wrongfully determined his own salary and sign-on bonus at NMBV, and that the board member who had signed his employment contract did not have the power to do so.

Ghosn will appeal the ruling so that he can give evidence, according to a spokesman.

“As today’s verdict has been rendered without hearing Mr Ghosn and other key witnesses, the defence team will now take the case to the court of appeal where Mr Ghosn’s right to witness evidence will be granted,” the spokesman said in a written statement. “We are satisfied with the court verdict which ruled out any bad faith from Mr Ghosn.”

Nissan spokesman said: “We are pleased that the court has dismissed Carlos Ghosn’s unfounded claims against NMBV and ordered Mr Ghosn to repay the significant sums he appropriated unlawfully. As judicial proceedings concerning Mr Ghosn’s misconduct are under way in other jurisdictions, Nissan will not be making any further comment at this time.”

Lebanon – to which Ghosn has family links – does not have an extradition treaty with Japan, but Nissan is pursuing separate civil litigation against him.

The carmaker in 2019 settled charges brought by the SEC for $15m, while Ghosn agreed a $1m settlement. Neither the carmaker, Ghosn, nor another executive admitted or denied the SEC’s charges that they “engaged in a scheme to conceal more than $90m of compensation from public disclosure, while also taking steps to increase Ghosn’s retirement allowance by more than $50m.”