Nissan Motors filed a lawsuit in Japan on Wednesday seeking $90 million from its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, who fled the country before his trial on charges of financial wrongdoing.
The automaker says 10 billion yen, or $90 million, would cover the monetary damages it says Mr. Ghosn inflicted on the company through misconduct and fraud.
Nissan said that it expected that amount to increase as it seeks to recover the fines paid to the Japanese Financial Services Agency and other penalties linked to Mr. Ghosn’s alleged misconduct.
Mr. Ghosn has denied any wrongdoing. In an emailed statement, a spokesman said, “Nissan’s maneuvers continue,” noting that the lawsuit was made public one day before the automaker was scheduled to release its earnings report.
“Mr. Ghosn’s lawyers will react on the merits of the case once the content of the claim has been brought to their attention,” the statement read.
Mr. Ghosn was arrested in Japan in 2018 and charged with underreporting his income and other financial wrongdoing. He fled to Lebanon in late December, an escape that surprised and embarrassed the Japanese authorities, which has issued a warrant for his arrest.
Mr. Ghosn was hailed for years as the rescuer of Nissan, which he made part of a thriving alliance with Renault of France and, later, Mitsubishi of Japan. But his career came to an abrupt end about 15 months ago after he was arrested in Japan and his legal troubles started to play out.
Questions are growing about whether Mr. Ghosn left Nissan in good shape. It has slipped into a deep slump, with revenue and profit falling around the world. Sales in the United States, a critical market for Nissan, fell 10 percent in 2019 even as global auto sales were near record levels.
Analysts and industry executives blame Mr. Ghosn for unrelentingly pushing for growth to the detriment of relationships with dealers who sell Nissan cars.
Mr. Ghosn has been unapologetic, railing publicly against what he says is a vast conspiracy to take him down. “The revival of Nissan, nobody’s going to take it from me,” he told The Times in a January interview.