The dramatic news of Carlos Ghosn’s arrest by Japanese authorities was felt on the stock markets in Paris as well as by automotive honchos and even fans across the world. Ghosn was a superstar in the industry and had become a megastar in Japan, where he has rescued the once-ailing Japanese carmaker Nissan from the depths of despair. But it was an internal investigation at Nissan that found that Ghosn (pronounced ‘Gohn’) had undertaken some financial jugglery. More than the arrests of some Volkswagen honchos for their roles in the ‘Dieselgate’ scam, the news of Ghosn’s arrest shocked the automotive world.
Unlike most other auto industry executives, Ghosn was a media darling, a foreigner (he is a French citizen, born in Brazil) who saved a venerable Japanese brand from death with dramatic cost-cutting moves. Few gaijin (foreigners) had ever managed to crack the Japanese corporate code before, let alone someone who was parachuted in. Ghosn was so popular that he even had a comic book featuring him. and all this made him and his family globally famous.
But what next for Ghosn and his reputation? It remains to be seen how the Japanese financial authorities deal with the case and what the exact charges against him are. In case the charges are dismissed, this won’t even register as a blemish. But if Ghosn’s alleged white-collar crimes are proven, his fall could be very hard indeed.