‘Fugitive: The Curious Case Of Carlos Ghosn’ Explained: Where Is Carlos Ghosn Now?

Carlos Ghosn was a French businessman who made a remarkable name in the world of the automobile industry. He was the man behind the survival of the beloved French automobile company Renault. He was later hired by Nissan to bring a change. Documentary film “Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn” follows the trail of incidents that made him a fugitive. After being arrested in Japan for misusing the company’s funds for personal use and unethically hiding his income from the company’s accounts, Carlos was taken into custody. He fled to Lebanon before his trial in a flight case for musical instruments. He held his first public conference in January 2020, where he described his imprisonment conditions and how the Japanese government was unfair to him; he pleaded for his innocence. A “Red Notice” has been issued for Carlos’s arrest by Interpol. He still remains a fugitive in Lebanon and, for some reason, refused to be a part of the documentary.

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Spoilers Ahead


What Happens In The Documentary Film ‘Fugitive: The Curious Case Of Carlos Ghosn’?

The first chapter in the Carlos Ghosn trial started in 1996 in Paris, when Renault hired Carlos Ghosn. Renault ran into a loss in the year 1996; the net worth loss was about 52,48,000,000 francs. Louis Schweitzer, the former CEO of Renault, explains how at the time, he was looking for a successor at Renault. Carlos Ghosn is described as a serious man, someone who always cared about his work. He wasn’t the kind of person who would seem interested in small talk. All the other heads couldn’t connect with him as he was least involved in having a social life; to be precise, they didn’t really like him. In 1997, Renault shut down its factory in Vilvoorde, Belgium, in July, laying off about 3000 workers. The whole place went upside down, with workers lying on the streets, striking and protesting. Carlos’s cost-cutting method wasn’t taken well by the public, but was it effective? Well, what seemed brutal to the eyes of the public actually saved Renault from years of debt. In a couple of years, Renault went from being highly in debt to becoming a company running in profit, with over 12.5 billion francs in profit. Carlos’s next step after pulling the company from debt was to establish an alliance with another automobile company; he wanted the company to be Asian, probably Japanese or Korean. 

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This was the next stage of the Carlos trial when Nissan entered into an alliance with Renault. On March 27th, 1997, Nissan and Renault formed the world’s fourth-biggest automobile group. At the time of the alliance, Nissan was $20 in debt, and Carlos took the responsibility of rebuilding Nissan. The workers at Nissan were worried and scared of losing their jobs as the news about 3000 workers losing their jobs had made its way to Japan. Ghosn was known to be a cost-cutter, and for his Nissan revival plan, he had laid off 21,000 people. He was precise in his headcount. Yoshimichi Hara, human resources manager at Nissan, explains how, at the time, his only job was to lay off people. Carlos knew how important it was to preserve Nissan and Renault’s separate identities, and he kept it that way. In Japanese culture, the New Year is one of the biggest holidays. Carlos forgot the meeting where he was supposed to wish everyone. Ghosn was considered a magician; he was known to add his magic to every project he took on. He made every project valuable in the eyes of the investors. He was a well-known name in the automobile industry; anything he touched would simply transform. Harris defines how the introduction of the iconic Nissan G-TR was his peak moment. He wasn’t known as someone who would smile, but that day he did. That was the point where Ghosn proved himself in the automotive industry. That period was truly Ghosn mania, with the whole world turning him into a star. He was covered by every magazine; he would sign off on t-shirts and magazines. At the time, he had his own fanbase.

With all his popularity, he soon became the CEO of Nissan in 2001. A couple of years later, he was made the CEO of Renault when Louis Schweitzer stepped down in 2005. It can probably be considered that this is where all the trouble began. Carlos was asked to step down from his position as the CEO of Nissan. Louis felt betrayed as Carlos had promised him that he would hold both positions for some time until he found a successor for Nissan. But did he mean it? I guess not, and yes, that’s what he did. He loved power and held his position at both companies; he didn’t even make an attempt to find a successor for Nissan. His life was in the air; he would literally be orbiting around the world, holding meetings and conferences. He would spend a week out of the month in Japan and the rest of his time in either America or France. Renault’s staff were overworked, and the headlines started to make an appearance. Is there a collective sickness among Renault’s staff? That’s when three Renault workers committed suicide. After interviewing their partners, it was discovered that they were under high stress, overworked, and tense. All their weekends were spent working, and they were exhausted to the point that they would cry every night – said the wife of a deceased Renault worker. In 2010, Carlos Ghosn’s income was publicized, and it was absurdly high. His income at that time was seven times more than Toyota’s CEO. His former housemaid in Japan tells us that he wasn’t someone who would lavishly spend; he liked taking care of his things.

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What Went Wrong?

In September 2010, Renault’s executives received a letter saying that there were spies at the high-level chain sourcing all the necessary information for a Chinese company. A meeting was held by Patrick Peralta, former chief operating officer at Renault. The members charged as guilty were fired. The whole scandal was on the news; it became even worse when Carlos chose to go on the main TV. The lack of evidence made Renault and Carlos a huge laughingstock. A month later, Carlos went back on TV and apologized and explained that he and the company had been deceived.


The Scandalous Birthday Party Of Carlos Ghosn

In 2014, the official 15th birthday party for the alliance of Nissan and Renault’s alliance took place at the Palace of Versailles on the same day as Carlos’s 60th birthday. The party was considered more of a personal event than a work event. It cost the company 6,30,000 euros. He had invited not just some friends but VIPs and celebrities like Cherie Blair, whereas the former CEO of Renault, Louis Schweitzer, wasn’t even invited to this success party.

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Japanese culture has its own way of dealing with something unhealthy. They would hold on to it till the time it is important, and once it loses its value, they will destroy it; that’s what happened with Carlos Ghosn. On November 19th, 2018, Carlos Ghosn was arrested at the Tokyo airport on suspicion of financial misconduct. Nissan managed to spend 19 years under the influence of Carlos; they needed him even though they were aware of his misconduct. Greg Kelly, Carlos’s top executive, was also arrested. Carlos’s arrest soon turned into an international conspiracy. On the same day, a press conference was held by Nissan claiming that Carlos was no longer part of Nissan’s board and that he had been stripped of all his powers. It was claimed to be the result of an investigation inside Nissan where Carlos had used the company’s assets for his personal use. No particular details were revealed in the press by the company, but the reports suggested that the company was responsible for paying off Carlos’s residences in Rio de Janeiro, Beirut, and Amsterdam. Some of the payments and transactions were handled by a shell company, ZI-A Capital, based in the Netherlands. Ghosn was considered responsible for shifting Nissan’s personal losses to a personal contract. In March 2019, Ghosn received bail for 1 billion yen (about 9 million USD). All these investigations raised questions in France as well; Renault found about 11 million questionable expenses made by Ghosn. Ghosn was a questionable person in the automobile industry. Now, his career was over.


Where Is Carlos Ghosn Now?

On December 30th, 2019, he made an escape from Japan to Lebanon. Ghosn used to regularly visit the Grand Hyatt hotel. He planned his escape from the Hyatt Hotel. He used to follow the same routine at the Hyatt Hotel to create no suspicion. He reached the Hyatt hotel that morning, being noticeable enough, and then for his escape plan, he wore something he wouldn’t usually wear. He met two men at the hotel, and the three of them left for the railway station. After taking a bullet train, they arrived at a nearby hotel at the Kansai International airport. He was carried in a flight case for musical instruments. They made sure that the case didn’t undergo an x-ray for the plan to succeed. Carlos explains how those thirty minutes before the plane took off were the longest thirty minutes of his life. Ghosn now resides in Lebanon, and he still wants to prove his innocence, but the real question is: was he really innocent, or even if he was, why did he fly away like a criminal? The conspiracy surrounding the Ghosn case might never be resolved, but “Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn” has tried to put together pieces of Ghosn’s life while in Japan and France. He can be defined as a strong and determined person, but what was the urge behind having such a big dream? Maybe he wanted to prove to himself that coming from a poor background didn’t define his life.

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“Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn” is a 2022 documentary film directed by Lucy Blakstad.

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Mehak Arora
Mehak Arora
Mehak is a media student currently pursuing her masters in audio and visual production. She is a film enthusiast. She loves to travel. She is a photographer and loves to write about films.

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