BEIRUT — As he seethed over his arrest, his ouster from power and his portrayal as a greedy dictator, Carlos Ghosn admitted last week being seized by other emotions.
One of the most successful auto CEOs of the past generation is haunted by regret, blown opportunities and the road not taken. Indeed, more than one road not taken.
At a world media press conference last week in the Lebanese capital, the former chairman of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi ticked off a short list of alternative endings that he let pass, he says, in his drive to advance the global auto alliance he created.
Ghosn bemoaned his decision in 2018 to extend his contract as head of Renault, explaining that he did so under a requirement to further integrate the French automaker with Nissan. Ghosn also now regrets rejecting what he says was an offer in 2009 to head General Motors and spearhead its reorganization during the Great Recession.
Had he taken the other option in either case, Ghosn said, he wouldn't be facing the mountain of legal problems now before him. And he wouldn't have needed to flee to Lebanon at the end of the December to evade trial in Japan, where he is accused of financial misconduct at Nissan.
More than 100 journalists jostled and snapped pictures of the fallen industry titan who was led into the room by a phalanx of bodyguards. Ghosn, 65, jumped bail in Tokyo through a carefully planned international security operation that reportedly stowed him away in a crate to get him free of Japanese prosecutors.
Unleashing a feisty, combative and meandering self-defense, Ghosn said he was relieved to be free of the Japanese judicial system, which he decried as "rigged." But he wondered aloud at what might have happened if he had taken an alternate career path.