The latest episode in the long-running saga of Carlos Ghosn, his news conference in Beirut on Wednesday, was a fitting sequel to the drama of his arrest in Japan, his stints in jail and his made-for-TV flight concealed in a large trunk and accompanied by a former Green Beret. Longtime viewers will recall that in earlier seasons, Mr. Ghosn, the son of three continents, had leapfrogged across the globe to save two auto companies from ruin (or was it three?), had staged a fabulous wedding at the Palace of Versailles and had done feats too many to list.
Now, having fled to Lebanon, the home of his ancestors, the 65-year-old fugitive executive tirelessly, at times passionately, held forth in English, French, Arabic and Portuguese before a packed room of reporters, flashing hard-to-read documents on a screen to proclaim that he was innocent of all the charges he faced in Japan, insisting that he had not fled from justice, since none was possible in Japan, but rather in search of justice against a political mugging.
Claiming that Japanese officials had sought to paint him as a cold, greedy dictator, he dramatically insisted that he was the opposite a man who loved the Japanese, who could have made a lot more money if, for example, he had accepted an offer to take charge of General Motors, and who was never accused of being a tyrant until his arrest in November 2018. And to prove that he deserved whatever compensation he had received, he noted that Renault and Nissan had been doing very badly since his arrest and forced resignations.
The story is fantastic, even by the standards of todays TV dramas. It is also important, a look at the underside of a high-stakes multinational industry, brutal corporate intrigue, extravagant compensation packages and complex international deals, both above and below board. Mr. Ghosn was the master of all these, and his leadership of a rocky alliance of three major auto companies Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi will, as he rightly claimed, be long studied among the case histories of business schools. He also lived high, spending big and hopping among grand residences in Brazil, Lebanon and France.