Now claiming to be "free to talk" and defend himself, former Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn explained why he’s taking legal action against the company he led for 20 years in an exclusive interview on "Mornings with Maria" Thursday.
"This has been going with a massive PR campaign trying to denigrate my behavior, my management style after 20 years at the head of the company," Ghosn told host Maria Bartiromo from his home in Lebanon.
"Obviously, there are a lot of details, a lot of facts," he continued, "and we think that the judge will be able, in a very neutral way, to see if there was any complicity to defraud me or not."
Ghosn, who served as the head of Nissan and Renault for two decades, filed a $1 billion defamation lawsuit against the automaker and roughly a dozen unnamed individuals in Beirut after he was arrested in Japan for a charge he defined as "not declaring a compensation that was neither decided nor paid."
The lawsuit accuses Nissan and unnamed individuals of defamation by "fabricating charges" that forced him to spend time in a Japanese prison before he fled the country in 2019 while on bail.
"When I was arrested, they stripped me from any kind of information, access to any data, any documents I had. So it took a long time, but now we have reconstituted the facts and the evidence, allowing me to have a very strong lawsuit against them," Ghosn explained.
The former Nissan and Renault chief has repeatedly maintained his innocence, and claimed the "conspiracy to defraud" him took place in both Japan and Lebanon, despite being unable to file a legal complaint in Japan "for obvious reasons."
"It started with the violation of my home in Lebanon, where they took a lot of documents without any warrants. And then they transmitted these documents to the prosecutor without any respect for the integrity of these documents," Ghosn said.
"This all starts here," he added. "So all the people who participated with this are the object of the lawsuit as much as Nissan."
If he had remained in Japan, Ghosn expressed his belief he’d be in jail "for the rest of [his] life" after his lawyers estimated a "very lengthy" trial lasting anywhere from 7 to 10 years.
"Prosecutors in Japan win in 99.4% of the cases, they would have to charge you for something, which means that you would have remained the rest of your life in Japan," the former chairman and CEO said.
Ghosn confirmed that a hearing date was set for mid-September and expects multiple witnesses to be called to testify.
"There are a lot of details, a lot of facts, and we think that the judge will be able, in a very neutral way, to see if there was any complicity to defraud me or not."
When reached by Fox News Digital Nissan stated it "will not be commenting" on the lawsuit at this time.
"It is true that the justice system in Lebanon is very neutral, that there is no political side to it. So I'm very confident that when they would see the facts and the evidence, that would rule to my favor. But let's see," Ghosn said.
Ghosn now resides in Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan and does not extradite its citizens. He also has citizenship in France and Brazil
Lebanon has received three notices from Interpol based on arrest warrants in Japan and France for Ghosn. In France, Ghosn faces legal challenges including tax evasion and alleged money laundering, fraud and misuse of company assets while at the helm of the Renault-Nissan alliance.
FOX Business’ Joe Toppe contributed to this report.