There is little question that Carlos Ghosn, the former CEO and Chairman of the Board of Nissan, has experienced a stunning fall from iconic businessman to a jail cell in Tokyo. His arrest was based on charges of his failure to report income and the use of company funds for personal expenses.
Collecting information over the past month since his arrest, the Barometer feels the “deja vu all over again.” From Enron to WorldCom to Madoff to Musk to Kozlowski and Tyco. The pattern emerges again. Brilliant and visionary business people with ideas, drive, and stunning success. Wealth beyond even their dreams. The bizarre expenses, and then the fall, sometimes through financial collapse, sometimes through arrest, and sometimes both.
In Ghosn’s case, a recap of his lifestyle as CEO:
His compensation was 11 times that of the chairman of Toyota
Lear-jet, worldwide travel
He commissioned a sculpture for Nissan headquarters by a Lebanese artist and friend for $888,000 following his earning the moniker of “Le Cost Killer”
His second wedding was na extravagant event with Marie-Antionette costumes (oh, and the cake for eating too, lots of cake)
While driving a Porsche through he streets of Tokyo, he grazed a couple and injured them (not driving a Nissan was a bit of a problem for the Japanese)
Shareholders tried to rein in compensation, and Mr. Ghosn dismissed their arguments
More than the financials, more than management discussion, more than any financial analysis — the behavior patterns of CEOs offer the real story of where a company (and the CEO) are headed.