Since then, the video has been removed from YouTube, where mysterious hands were responsible for its transmission at the time of the car tycoon’s arrest. But the images from the luxurious party given by Carlos Ghosn in the living rooms and gardens of the Palace of Versailles, on March 9, 2014, have remained etched in our memories. Under the gold of the Galerie des Batailles, crowded with period costumes, lamps and vignettes in vibrant colors, musicians recreate the atmosphere of Louis XIV’s courtyard to illuminate a festive dinner served with the finest dishes. At the end of the celebration, fireworks were even thrown in the palace gardens. But the king of the night was none other than the boss of Renault-Nissan, who seemed to welcome his guests from the top of the grand staircase.
Paid 533,434 euros by the car industry, the party took place on his sixtieth birthday. The first data of the investigation that opened in Japan after the arrest of Ghosn, in November 2018, indicated that the guests were mainly friends of the then CEO. Today, investigators from the Headquarters for Combating Corruption and Financial and Tax Offenses, who were commissioned to investigate by Judge Serge Tournaire in the Nanterre court, have improved their investigations. And to read the hearing that took place in Lebanon on 2 and 3 June, in the opinion of Release, the judge considers in any case that the deposed CEO would have supported the car group “Personal expenses”, to the forefront of which the celebration of March 9, 2014.
Serge Tournaire points out to Carlos Ghosn that he was among the 154 guests “95 relatives and friends” and “25 politicians who would be friends and relatives”. Only “3 employees” Renault and the group’s 24 distributors around the world, as well as 6 journalists (not to mention one person “unknown”, as a mysterious guest). The judge notes that none of the members of the board of the Alliance was informed of the fact that no senior executive was invited. Note that on Instagram, “large number of members” of the Ghosn family had described the night as “family reunion”…
“The symbol of French genius”
For the first time, Carlos Ghosn is explained before a judge anyway on suspicions of misuse of corporate assets that are the subject of this luxurious love affair. In January 2020, during a large press conference in Beirut, a few days after his escape from Japan, he justified the choice of Versailles for the official celebration of the anniversary of the Renault-Nissan alliance. Versailles is “prestige”, it’s the “Symbol of the genius of France. It is the symbol of openness to the world “. had forged. Before insuring: “If you invite a Frenchman to Versailles, he will not come. “If you invite an American, a Chinese, a Japanese, to Versailles, he will come running!”
Well, that was not the case, to find out the amazing answers the former car mogul gave to the judge. Why did so many of his friends attend the party? Just because “Last minute cancellations” were to leave vacancies and that absent guests had to be replaced shortly. The “Chinese officials” which helped Nissan to enter China, far from coming “running”, avoided the event, as well as the Russians, against whom “There were sanctions.” “We had huge withdrawals from Russian visitors.” says Ghosn.
“Everything was prepaid. Mr. Ducasse did not care how many guests he had, he had set his budget at 200 people, he continues. Arriving at a party of 200 people with empty chairs would have a bad effect, it was necessary to invite people at the last minute but their presence was less justified.
In the face of these new explanations, the judge was surprised: “Regarding the withdrawals, is this documented?” The former CEO promises to find the documents and ask who he may be referring to. He assures it “Despite the withdrawals, two thirds of the guests were strictly professionals.” Regarding the choice of the date, which fell exactly on the day of his sixtieth birthday, while that of the alliance was to be celebrated on March 27, he reiterates his already well-established arguments: “The castle was not available on March 27.” The date h“I am bored” because of his birthday, assures Ghosn, who reiterates, as he has already done, that he hosted dinner the next day at the restaurant Monsieur Bleu, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, with his family and friends. in order to celebrate its 60th anniversary with dignity.
The “president’s guests” are housed in a palace
In any case, Carlos Ghosn has a special appetite for the Palace of Versailles. Two and a half years after the first night, he organized there, on October 8, 2016, the 50th birthday of Carole’s wife. The socket is visibly extended. “The budget was not very economical because it is a party for which I paid 230,000 euros.” points Carlos Ghosn to the judge who asks him about this reception. Only problem, this amount covers the organization of the meal, the decoration, but not the reception of the Grand Trianon of Versailles, ie 50,000 euros. And for good reason, it was not charged to the Ghosn couple, but was paid for by Renault. The carmaker had signed a sponsorship deal with the Public Foundation of the Palace of Versailles, deducting 50,000 euros from this budget for the cost of renting Carole Ghosn’s birthday room.
Asked about this point, the former Renault CEO assures “to know nothing” and having discovered in 2019 that it was written “free room” in the invoice he received. An unconvincing reasoning for the judge, who then asks: “How did he not notify you that this room was available to you for free for an event that did not interest Renault?” The interested party simply indicates: “I think I answered that question.” The recurring theme of Carlos Ghosn’s personal expenses, which is probably borne by the company that employs him, also appears during the Cannes Film Festival, of which Renault is one of the sponsors. In addition to the traditional expenditure intended to strengthen the diamond brand, more than € 300,000 is spent each year between 2014 and 2018 on “guests of the President”, was transferred and hosted in one of the most luxurious palaces on the Cote d’Azur, the Eden Roc. A census of those celebrations, compiled by the Mazars audit firm, shows that half or more of the twenty people invited each year are here again. “Personal friends or family members of the Chief Executive Officer”. “I did not think I would have such a big family” reacts humorously to the person concerned, before thinking that he has only done it “Continue the tradition.”
Intensive use of Nissan’s private jet was obviously less of a tradition. Mazars Control records 34 voyages or 276 flight hours in which Carlos Ghosn’s wife or children are on board. In total, the cost of these trips, which took place between 2015 and 2018, is estimated at 8.2 million euros. The main beneficiary – to whom the lawyers did not respond release – sees no reason for suspicion: “Every time I went on holiday and my children accompanied me, all the names were written down and sent to the Nissan secretariat.” Today, the chairman of Renault’s board, Jean-Dominique Senard, travels in business class on regular airplanes.