The Fall of the House of Ghosn
December 17, 2018 4:56 AM   Subscribe

 
It's almost like all this unchecked wealth and power went to his head and he decided to abuse this power and wealth in selfish ways.
posted by Fizz at 5:22 AM on December 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm always amazed at the phenomenon of rich people stealing shit that they could easily afford to buy.
posted by octothorpe at 6:28 AM on December 17, 2018 [16 favorites]


True story, Ghosn indirectly got me laid off back in 2013. It was a bad (if well paying) job though, so I guess I'm thankful.
posted by 256 at 6:34 AM on December 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


the phenomenon of rich people stealing shit that they could easily afford to buy.

How do you suppose they got rich in the first place? And if they spent their money, they wouldn't be rich anymore.
posted by Naberius at 6:56 AM on December 17, 2018 [17 favorites]


Mr. Ghosn’s children believe that the perks he enjoyed at Nissan should be weighed against the turnaround he led at the company and the wealth he created for others at the company over the past two decades, according to a person close to the Ghosn family.

I'm sure that'll fly for anyone else caught embezzling. "Yeah, you paid me a salary and these benefits, but I decided I was worth more and so I took more. I'm sure you agree, right?"
posted by explosion at 7:08 AM on December 17, 2018 [13 favorites]


the phenomenon of rich people stealing shit that they could easily afford to buy.

Free beer tastes good, but stolen beer tastes better
(Don't steal beer, that is bad)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:16 AM on December 17, 2018


Gee, what a shock that so many WSJ commenters feel that Ghosn “earned” all he could grab.
posted by 41swans at 7:40 AM on December 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


I don't think he "earned" any of it, but I also think this sounds a lot like an internal Renault-Nissan power play that dragged in the courts, so deserves some skeptical scrutiny.
posted by praemunire at 7:42 AM on December 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


One of the rules when you operate in a cutthroat environment is to play by the rules (or at least be aware of the risk if you do not).

A lot of the English-language reporting on the issue has focused on the idea that Ghosn is being punished for his "foreignness", and the Japanese courts are willing accomplices to some sort of conspiracy.

Which could be true. But Ghosn could have avoided this by following the rules. Is that too much to ask?
posted by JamesBay at 7:47 AM on December 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


I only read the early reporting on this, but at that time the rule breaking it was alleged he did was pretty pissant stuff that sounded far more like slightly loose accounting than intentional fraud.

Many of those rules, by the way, are legitimately judgement calls for the most part, so saying "oh, well he should have followed the rules" is meaningless palaver in this context. I'm fairly certain praemunire's perception is closest to the truth here.

That said, Ghosn should have very well known that this was a possibility. It's not as if Japan's particular brand of justice isn't well known among those who should know.
posted by wierdo at 8:17 AM on December 17, 2018


So much of the joy for those on the shittier side of the humanity spectrum is grounded in taking part in actions that provide assurance that one is better than other people.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:25 AM on December 17, 2018


The jury's still out on Ghosn. He sure as hell saved Chrysler (again!), and probably saved Renault and, yes, Nissan as well. Nissan does not have the same rep for quality that Toyota, Honda and Subaru (Fuji Heavy Industries aka Nakajima) have, so he used exciting design to lure the buyers back in.

His intent to centralize leadership of the diverse and different car-makers in France or Brazil spurred his Datsun (renamed Nissan as Toyota wasn't on the minds of WWII vets like Datsun was in the mid '80s) contemporaries, with a populist/nationalist right-wing government behind them, to make accusations that are likely unfounded.

This is generational William Gibsonesque Zaibatsu global politics. He may actually be guilty, but the circumstances are shady as all hell and damn facinating.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:23 AM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


A lot of the spending detailed seems to verge on embezzlement and it'll be interesting to see how the facts come out. On the one hand, yeah the homes were technically owned by Nissan and not expropriated by Ghosn, on the other hand they were owned by secret shell companies and for his exclusive use.

Also, creating the illusion that he was paid less than he "should have been" and generating IOUs that only he and his executive assistant were privy to seems substantially less than ethical.

I suppose it could be considered fair if he were found to have not committed any crimes, but merely that the IOUs aren't legally enforceable and they just have him return any assets and remuneration that he was "accidentally" afforded.
posted by explosion at 9:28 AM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]




Mr. Ghosn’s children believe that the perks he enjoyed at Nissan should be weighed against the turnaround he led at the company and the wealth he created for others at the company over the past two decades, according to a person close to the Ghosn family.

It's always astonishing the way some defend bad behavior under the mistaken belief that some people are irreplaceable and their bad behavior must be tolerated.

Cf. Elon Musk, Steve Jobs.
posted by JackFlash at 9:49 AM on December 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


I'm fairly certain praemunire's perception is closest to the truth here.

But there is this idea that the courts were accomplices in some sort of conspiracy against Ghosn, and courts in Japan are actually quite independent. This point of view (not saying it's praemunire's point of view, it's just something I have observed for many years) is indicative of mindset that Japan is still on the road to becoming equal to Western ("white") democracies -- at the moment Japan is corrupt, Japan is a puppet, etc etc.

Which I fundamentally reject.

In this case, though, it's been observed that Japanese courts, while independent, focus more on enforcing the law, rather than administering justice. Michael Cucek usually has the most informed and largely impartial analysis of Japanese government and law in English.
posted by JamesBay at 10:14 AM on December 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


I think there's a bit of truth to the "punished for foreignness", but not exactly in the way people might mean. Japanese don't generally like for CEOs/leaders to flaunt their wealth, and those who do risk the same public censure that any "not following the norm" behavior does there. Japan certainly has its share of wealthy businessmen (although the income disparity is lower than in the US), but they are "supposed" to be more... circumspect about it.

(The "real" inside story may well be a power struggle, but the court of public opinion is against him)
posted by thefoxgod at 2:37 PM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's not so much as some people are irreplaceable as some people are... more expensive to replace than others.

But a misperception of exactly how expensive you are to replace tends to be fatal.

Failing to follow the social norms of the place in which your multinational corporation is headquartered and whose law it is subject to is just dumb.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:48 PM on December 17, 2018


I don't think anyone here is saying that Japanese courts are joining in some conspiracy. What I'm personally saying is that in that system Ghosn's actual guilt or innocence became irrelevant once prosecutors were convinced to bring charges. For that reason, the process can be manipulated and used against someone who may well have not actually committed any crimes.

Perhaps my problem understanding this comes from having seen company provided executive accommodation, an aviation budget, sweetheart "loans," and all the other stuff Ghosn supposedly embezzled in every other public company I've had reason to look at. Just like I have literally never seen a situation where an executive is shared between companies where there aren't constant arguments about which company should be paying how much of the shared expenses. The misapplication of expenses to Nissan seems to be the closest thing here to a crime.
posted by wierdo at 3:43 PM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


Nissan does not have the same rep for quality that Toyota, Honda and Subaru (Fuji Heavy Industries aka Nakajima) have, so he used exciting design to lure the buyers back in.

Which is funny, because I can't think of any automotive design department that more dependably turns out implausibly hideous designs than Nissan's, post-2000. It looks like they hired the set designers who made the cars in Timecop and told them to update that design language for the contemporary market.
posted by invitapriore at 3:59 PM on December 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


The jury's still out on Ghosn. He sure as hell saved Chrysler (again!),

What did Ghosn have to do with Chrysler?

Also, as an organisation, Nissan's been Nissan since pre-war times, even though it did initially expand to the US and Europe with its Datsun brand.
posted by ambrosen at 4:24 PM on December 17, 2018


It's always astonishing the way some defend bad behavior under the mistaken belief that some people are irreplaceable and their bad behavior must be tolerated.

Cf. Elon Musk, Steve Jobs.


Musk, I'll grant you. Jobs, on the other hand, took a company widely assumed to be on its deathbed and engineered a literally unimaginable comeback. He wasn't irreplaceable--Tim Cook seems to have done a fine job for the last several years, generally--but it sure as shit wasn't by John Sculley.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:48 AM on December 18, 2018


Everyone is replaceable. The notion that bad behavior must be tolerated because someone is irreplaceable is toxic.

What makes you think that the recovery of Apple is the most important thing in the world? You would have just had a different world and perhaps a much better one without the toxicity.
posted by JackFlash at 8:05 AM on December 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


A fascinating wrinkle in this story is that, despite the boards of Nissan and Mitsubishi both kicking him to the curb and having the cops slam him in the pokey, Ghosn has been retained as numéro un over at Renault, with the Guardian reporting that an investigation at Renault has found no irregularities, so presumably he's running that part of the tripartite carmaker from jail like El Chapo.

That alone makes me wonder if the most accurate explanation for Ghosn's downfall comes from this piece at Jalopnik last month suggesting that it wasn't what Ghosn did, but what he was planning that finally brought the hammer down.
posted by MarchHare at 1:17 PM on December 19, 2018


What did Ghosn have to do with Chrysler?

Absolutely nothing.

Fun fact: Can’t remember where I just read this, but supposedly Japanese prosecutors win convictions more than 99% of the time.
posted by pmurray63 at 6:48 PM on December 19, 2018


What did Ghosn have to do with Chrysler?

Car executives are so often weirdly colourful characters (Bunkie Knudsen and John Z. DeLorean, for example) that it's easy to occasionally confuse who did what. Five gets you ten that Slap*Happy was thinking either of recently deceased FCA head Sergio Marchionne, the man who delivered unto his undeserving flock the mighty Hellcat, or that original saviour of the Mopar faithful, the late great Lee Iacocca ♫(his name is Lee Iacocca)♫.
posted by MarchHare at 7:52 PM on December 19, 2018


JackFlash: "Everyone is replaceable. The notion that bad behavior must be tolerated because someone is irreplaceable is toxic."

"The graveyards are full of irreplaceable men."
posted by Chrysostom at 9:39 PM on December 20, 2018


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