Another week, another bombshell in the auto industry: Carlos Ghosn is arrested in Japan for alleged financial misconduct involving millions of dollars in underreported income and misused company funds.
The details are still being filled in, but no matter what turns up, this looks bad for Ghosn and his legacy at Nissan and its alliance partners, Renault and Mitsubishi.
He is not the first in the industry to be marred by scandal, nor will he be the last. Authorities have released the CEO of Audi from custody after more than four months, and he's just one of several executives involved in the diesel scandals in Europe, including former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn. Porsche executives were indicted in Germany for stock manipulation a while ago but were acquitted in 2016. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the UAW have had several executives sent to prison for their roles in the fraudulent use of millions of dollars intended to train workers.
And who will forget John DeLorean's 1982 federal indictments in an alleged scheme to obtain and sell 55 pounds of cocaine at a time when his business was teetering. He, too, was acquitted, only to be indicted on fraud charges the following year (and acquitted again).
The automobile industry attracts plenty of folks who are tempted by the huge amounts of money and the opportunity to get a piece of it for their own use.
No other industry, it seems, tempts so many with so much money.
There are so many opportunities for corruption, GM used to transfer field personnel every 18 months just to avoid any opportunities that might arise from too-cozy relationships. The old rule for gifts was if you can't eat it, drink it or smoke it in 24 hours, you can't accept it.
Dealers, suppliers and automakers have been found guilty of trying to get their hands on the billions of dollars that float around in this industry. If we wanted to list all the investigations and indictments we've seen in this business, it would take several pages. And the list keeps getting longer. The numbers are huge, and the scandals go all the way to the top.
And at each level, there appears to be a feeling that the scheme is foolproof and no one will get caught. But the perpetrators always seem to get caught.
Ghosn has been arrested. Regardless of whether he is convicted, his career is marred, and there will always be an asterisk beside his name.
Executive talent isn't infinite in this industry.
Whenever promising careers are cut short or discredited because of some activity, it is a shame and a waste.