Nissan says Carlos Ghosn coup emails are ‘fake’

Nissan has described a series of explosive emails, which gave weight to the theory that its former chairman Carlos Ghosn was brought down by an internal coup, as “fake documents”.

The emails, which purported to show private conversations between key figures at the Japanese carmaker, had been circulated to a number of media outlets last year as part of what people close to Nissan now believe was a campaign of misinformation by parties loyal to Mr Ghosn.

On Monday, Bloomberg published a report on a chain of emails that appeared to show that Mr Ghosn was set up by top Nissan executives alarmed by his attempts to merge the Japanese group with its alliance partner Renault before his arrest in November 2018 on charges of financial misconduct. 

According to the report, one email exchange in mid-2018 showed a Nissan executive telling a colleague that the carmaker should act to “neutralise his initiatives before it’s too late”, referring to steps Mr Ghosn was taking to further integrate the two groups. 

In a statement on Tuesday, Nissan said: “We have been made aware of numerous documents repeatedly circulated to the media that we suspect were forged or falsified to suggest that they were sent by Nissan individuals.”

Last year the Financial Times reviewed similar emails but was unable to confirm they were genuine. 

 In an emailed statement, Bloomberg News said it stands by its reporting on the Nissan story. 

The former chairman, who fled criminal charges in Japan and took refuge in Lebanon, has denied all allegations of financial misconduct. He has claimed he was a victim of conspiracy between Nissan, prosecutors and the Japanese government. 

Questions remain over the exact sequence of events that led to the Tokyo prosecutors’ decision to arrest Mr Ghosn, which ultimately resulted in his downfall as the head of Nissan.

However, multiple people within Nissan have said that there were significant question marks within the company over the direction Mr Ghosn was taking both the Japanese automaker and the alliance that still binds it to Renault and Mitsubishi Motors. Nissan’s former chief executive Hiroto Saikawa, has also said the carmaker was damaged by Japanese nationalists wanting to unwind its 21-year partnership with France’s Renault.

On Wednesday, Nissan denied again that the discovery of Mr Ghosn’s alleged misconduct was part of a conspiracy to end its alliance with Renault. “Nissan uncovered significant evidence of serious misconduct by Carlos Ghosn and Greg Kelly through a robust and thorough internal investigation managed by an external law firm,” it said.

Mr Kelly, Nissan’s former head of legal who was also arrested in 2018, remains on bail awaiting trial on a financial misconduct charge which he denies. 

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