Ghosn ordered by Dutch court to repay $6m to Nissan
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Ghosn ordered by Dutch court to repay $6m to Nissan

Ghosn ordered by Dutch court to repay $6m to Nissan

The amount covers net remuneration Ghosn received from April to November 2018

Carlos Ghosn was ordered by a Dutch court to pay almost EUR5m ($6m) to a local unit of Nissan Motor Co. in one of the first rulings arising from the global legal battle between the fallen auto executive and his former employer.

The former chairman has “no right to fair compensation, transitional compensation or arrears of salary” since no employment contract existed between him and Nissan-Mitsubishi, an Amsterdam-based joint venture called NMBV, the district court in the Dutch capital said in a ruling on Thursday.

The amount covers net remuneration Ghosn received from April to November 2018, the court said.

The case in the Netherlands is just one of many legal fights between Nissan and Ghosn, who found sanctuary in Lebanon at the end of 2019 after slipping out of Japan, where he was indicted on charges of under-reporting compensation. Nissan has sued Ghosn for 10bn yen ($92m) in damages. There are also two criminal proceedings in Japan against people accused of helping Ghosn perpetrate crimes, essentially making them proxies to the former chairman of Nissan and Renault.

Ghosn’s defense team will appeal the ruling, which was rendered without hearing evidence from him and other key witnesses, a spokesman said by email. The spokesman said the team is satisfied the court verdict “ruled out any bad faith” by Ghosn.

“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,” said Lavanya Wadgaonkar, a Nissan spokeswoman. She declined to comment further because “judicial proceedings concerning Mr. Ghosn’s misconduct are underway in other jurisdictions.”

Ghosn, whose name didn’t appear in the ruling but was identified as a claimant residing in Lebanon, sued his former employer for EUR15m in 2019, arguing that he was wrongfully dismissed. Nissan’s lawyers last year told the court that ending Ghosn’s employment was justified, citing factors including his long-term detention in Japan as well and questionable tax payments by NMBV.

The court said, however, that Ghosn was employed by Nissan International Holding BV from July 1, 2012, and that the employment contract with that corporate entity came to an end on April 1, 2018.

The arrest of Ghosn and Greg Kelly, a former Nissan director, sent shock waves through Nissan and its global carmaking alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Nissan’s profits slumped to a decade low, and score-settling resulted in an exodus of top executives. The turmoil left the manufacturers in a weaker position as they seek to navigate an industry being disrupted by shifts to electric vehicles and self-driving technology.

Ghosn, whose spectacular escape from Japan added even more drama to the unusual corporate saga, remains in Beirut and is seeking to restore his reputation. Apart from taking interviews, he has started a website, published a book and is working on a documentary.

Tokyo prosecutors have pursued their case against Kelly and Nissan for underreporting Ghosn’s income by more than 9bn yen. Kelly has denied the charges, while Nissan has pleaded no contest. That trial is ongoing, with Kelly’s testimony set to wrap up in early July.

Michael and Peter Taylor, two Americans who were extradited to Japan to face charges of helping Ghosn flee the country, will have their first hearing in Tokyo next month.

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