TOKYO — Now that Carlos Ghosn has ducked his criminal trial in Japan by fleeing the country, Nissan Motor Co. wants to ramp up civil action against the ousted chairman, seeking damages that the company says he incurred through a list of alleged abuses, from fraudulent compensation to a sweetheart deal for his sister.
The claims against Ghosn could run into the tens of millions of dollars, one person familiar with the plan said.
The automaker submitted a detailed report of his alleged misconduct this month to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, claiming that his purported misappropriation runs in excess of $40 million.
"Now we are getting serious about the civil side," one person familiar with the push said.
Nissan has dangled the threat of civil suits against Ghosn since shortly after his November 2018 arrest for alleged financial misconduct during his time at the helm of Japan's No. 2 carmaker.
But Nissan's board is now prioritizing the idea following Ghosn's stunning year-end escape from Japan to Lebanon, where he now lives beyond the reach of Japan's criminal justice system.
Some strategists inside Nissan had wanted his criminal trial to wrap up first in part to help tease out new evidence to help in later civil actions, one person said.
Ghosn's criminal trial was expected to begin as early as this spring. But because Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan, it is now unlikely Ghosn will ever return to sit in a Tokyo courtroom.