He was head of the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi alliance for 20 years and turned around the fortunes of these companies while eliciting his own. He was admired by the media, but behind the scenes, he was mired in personal corruption. Evidence from Japanese prosecutors found a money trail and it led to Ghosn. Ghosn was effectively using the empire he built as a personal bank account. He was arrested in Japan and thrown into a prison cell.
Renault was the only alliance member to resist sacking Ghosn. Until now. Ghosn has called it quits on his time at the alliance. He didn’t arrange a press conference, he didn’t contact his media mules. He did so from a cramped prison cell in Tokyo.
Some may sympathize with his current circumstance, Others may well be less forgiven. But the one question no one has asked is why?
Why did Ghosn, a CEO paid in the millions per year, go on an all-out corruption bid? To earn many, many more millions? Yes is one answer, the other is greed.
And yet his stewardship of the alliance he helped create is a textbook example of how to survive, rescue and re-build a business.
The clash between the business brain and greed is akin to a split personality.
Before his arrest, Ghosn was said to be pushing for a full merger. It appears Nissan did a bit of due diligence. Nissan’s internal investigation revealed, in no other words, corruption.
If a full merger had gone ahead, Ghosn would have in prime position to have gained tens of millions more, as is afforded by his position as CEO.
If he had just kept his head down and completed what he started he would have been wealthy no matter what. But the power consumed him and the greed felled him.
For now, Ghosn has to contend with the grim reality of a Japanese prison cell. And the only thread he has to hang on is the principle of innocent until proven guilty.