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Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

Carlos Ghosn is in jail, and he's likely to be there for a while. Up until last week, Ghosn was the unquestioned leader of the largest carmaker in the world, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which sold 5.5 million cars in the first 6 months of 2018. The group has also sold more than 500,000 electric cars, which is twice as many as Tesla.

The big picture: The success of the Alliance is in large part due to the hard-charging Ghosn. But Ghosn's sheer force of personality cuts both ways. It can get things done, especially in countries like France and Japan where change is particularly difficult. It also pisses people off, including a Japanese whistleblower at Nissan. The result: Ghosn being arrested while aboard his private jet in Tokyo.

  • The stated reason for Ghosn's arrest was underreporting $44 million of income to the Japanese authorities. He also reportedly spent $18 million of corporate money on personal homes, including a house in Beirut, where the company has no operations.
  • Even at the highest levels, there were tensions within the alliance. Ghosn was planning a full-scale merger of Renault and Nissan before his arrest, which the Nissan board opposed. That board wasted no time in firing him from his position as chairman, even as the Renault board was more supportive.

Be smart: People as wealthy as Ghosn often begin to believe that the rules no longer apply to them. At least until they're arrested.

The Ghosn scandal is far from the only tale of business turpitude in Japan. A different whistleblower has helped to initiate a DOJ investigation of Olympus, which seems to have had difficulty changing its corporate culture after a $1.7 billion accounting scandal in 2011. And Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group is being investigated by U.S. prosecutors over money laundering connected to North Korea.

Why it matters: Increasingly, corporate malfeasance takes place internationally. Companies and their executives are being held accountable in dozens of jurisdictions around the world. Investigations can and do turn up in unexpected places.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.