14 Facts You Didn't Know About Carlos Ghosn

Published June 14th, 2021 - 02:00 GMT
Carlos Ghosn
Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November 2018. (Shutterstock: Mo-padri, edited by Albawaba's Riham Darwish)

Ever since his rise in the business world in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Carlos Ghosn has never been an ordinary businessman. Thanks to the remarkable success the man achieved in the automobile world, rescuing collapsing companies in the last minutes, his name has always been so flashy. Yet, his arrest and escape stories have stirred the biggest astonishment.

While most people have heard about Ghosn's controversial record of events managing three of the world's biggest car manufacturers at once, whether its the management skills that had enabled him to revive Nissan of its almost inevitable death in 1999 or the corruption allegations he faced in Japan, there are still plenty of less known facts about the Brazil-born man.

1. His grandfather immigrated to Brazil from Lebanon

Ghosn's relationship with Brazil is much deeper than being an immigrant. In the early years of the 20th century, Ghosn's grandfather left Lebanon at the age of 13 in search of a better life. He soon became a successful entrepreneur in several industries including agriculture and aviation.

Even though his mother was born in Nigeria, her family also moved to Brazil where she grew up, and met with Carlos' father.

2. His father was convicted of a murder charge in Lebanon in the 1960s

In the 1960s and shortly after Ghosn was born, his family moved back to Lebanon for several years. However, his father, a diamond trader, was convicted of murdering a priest in 1961, for which he spent near a decade in a Lebanese jail.

The Ghosns moved back to Brazil in the wake of the Lebanese civil war in 1975.

3. Born in Brazil,  grew up in Lebanon and received higher education in France

Carlos was born in Brazil in 1954 but received most of his school education in Lebanon while his father was spending jail time. 

Upon finishing high school in Beirut, Carlos moved to Paris to enroll in the prestigious École Polytechnique in Paris, where he graduated with an engineering degree in 1974.

4. Spent 18 years in Michelin

After graduating as an engineer in the 1970s, Carlos Ghosn spent 18 years in the France-based Michelin tire manufacturer, where he gained most of his business skills.

5. Was nicknamed "The Cost Killer"

In 1996, Carlos Ghosn joined Renault and achieved major success laying out cost-cutting programs, that he was nicknamed "the Cost Killer".

6. Holds three citizenships and speaks four languages fluently

Due to the many experiences the businessman had in different parts of the world, he holds the citizenships of Brazil, Lebanon, and France, speaking the official languages of all three countries fluently, in addition to English.

After Ghosn moved to Japan to manage Nissan, he studied Japanese as well.

7. His life story was documented in Japanese manga and comic productions by 2002

Thanks to the success Ghosn achieved after heading the Nissan-Renault alliance by 1999, during which he successfully saved Nissan from a financial collapse, Ghosn was celebrated as a superstar hero in Japan, which led manga and comic producers to feature his success story.

8. Allegations of corruption cost him his seat on Nissan board

Despite extraordinary success in the automobile world, chairing three of the world's largest manufacturers (Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi), Ghosn faced a series of corruption allegations in 2018.

According to Nissan's Hiroto Saikawa, Ghosn used company funds for personal investments and real estate purchases, misusing the corporates' assets.

Allegations have specifically highlighted Ghosn's residencies in Paris and Rio de Janeiro in 2005 and 2012, in addition to the $15 million renovations of his Beirut mansion, which were all allegedly charged to Nissan.

9. Was arrested in Japan in November 2018 with several allegations

Following a press release by Nissan in which Ghosn was dismissed from the board and stripped of his executive rights, Ghosn arrived in Japan coming from Lebanon on board a private jet.

As soon as Carlos Ghosn landed in Japan, he was arrested by the police and sent to jail.

10. Escaped house arrest in Japan during 2019 Christmas in a Hollywood-style escape

In April 2019, Ghosn was granted the right to leave jail and be put under a strictly monitored house arrest. However, by Christmas of the same year, the world was shocked seeing him in Lebanon hours after being smuggled in a music box into an airplane that flew him to Turkey before he ended up in his home country of Lebanon.

11. His escape plan didn't include his American aides who remain in jail in Japan

While Ghosn was able to successfully flee Japan, denouncing its legal system and accusing authorities of mistreating him, his American aides Michael Taylor and his son Peter Taylor remained in Japanese jails and are still facing trials. 

12. Sued for access to properties in Rio and Beirut

When Nissan started the legal action against its former hero, Ghosn, accusing him of purchasing personal property with the companies own money, the management was able to take control of his properties in Rio and Beirut. However, the Ghosn family sued Nissan to regain access to the apartments and the mansion.

13. Believes that allegations against him are Xenophobic 

Despite being openly hiding in Lebanon since December 2019, Ghosn's media interviews have always shown him to be confident of his innocence, in addition to claiming that being targeted in Japan stems out of being an outsider. 

14. He continues to live in collapsing Lebanon as a wanted fugitive

Even though Ghosn is still enjoying his life in Lebanon, despite the country's collapsing economy, the businessman is still wanted by Interpol and hasn't been able to leave Lebanon since he arrived at it in December 2019.

Which of these facts about Carlos Ghosn were the most shocking for you? 

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