It took two decades for "le cost-cutter" Carlos Ghosn to carve out his three-way automobile empire. But in a matter of days, it was ripped from his grasp.

Exactly a year ago, prosecutors waited for Ghosn as he arrived at Tokyo's Haneda Airport in a private jet. The Nissan Motor Co. chairman was immediately arrested and taken into custody on charges that he underreported his income and used company funds for personal gain. He was ousted from Nissan three days later.

Alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp. rapidly followed suit, and he eventually stepped down from his positions at Renault SA as well.