Nissan’s Ghosn re-arrested, chances of imminent bail dashed

The Ghosn case has put Japan’s criminal justice system under international scrutiny and sparked criticism for some of its practices. (File/AP)
Updated 21 December 2018
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Nissan’s Ghosn re-arrested, chances of imminent bail dashed

  • The move comes a day after a Tokyo court unexpectedly rejected prosecutors’ request to extend Ghosn’s detention
  • The re-arrest means he could be detained for at least another 10 days in a Tokyo jail

TOKYO: Japanese prosecutors re-arrested Nissan Motor Co. Ltd’s ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn on Friday on fresh allegations of making Nissan shoulder $16.6 million in personal investment losses, dashing chances he would be released on bail imminently.
The move comes a day after a Tokyo court unexpectedly rejected prosecutors’ request to extend Ghosn’s detention, which raised the possibility that he could go free on bail as early as Friday.
The re-arrest means he could be detained for at least another 10 days in a Tokyo jail, where he has been confined since he was arrested last month on initial allegations of financial misconduct.
The Tokyo prosecutor said the new allegations were based on suspicions that around October 2008, Ghosn shifted personal trades to the automaker, so that he could avoid paying for 1.85 billion yen ($16.6 million) in losses.
His lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, was not available for comment. The lawyer has previously declined to return calls regarding the Ghosn case.
The Tokyo court said in a statement that the lawyer for Greg Kelly, who was arrested along with Ghosn, has requested the release of Ghosn’s former deputy. Kelly’s detention extension was rejected along with Ghosn’s.
The dramatic turn of events came hours after Ghosn, through his lawyer and quoted by Japanese public broadcaster NHK, vowed to restore his good name in court and to hold a news conference after his release.
“Things as they stand are absolutely unacceptable,” he was quoted as saying. “I want to have my position heard and restore my honor in court.”
Ghosn was initially arrested on Nov. 19 for allegedly understating his income by about half over a five-year period from 2010. He was later charged with the same alleged crime covering the past three years.
Television camera crews had gathered outside the Tokyo jail on Friday morning in hopes of catching sight of Ghosn being released.
The Ghosn case has put Japan’s criminal justice system under international scrutiny and sparked criticism for some of its practices, including keeping suspects in detention for long periods and prohibiting defense lawyers from being present during interrogations, which can last eight hours a day.
Ghosn’s arrest has marked a dramatic fall for a leader once hailed for rescuing Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy.
It has also shaken the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, with Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa calling for changes to weaken Renault SA’s control.


Dubai property developer Damac on hunt for land in Saudi Arabia

Hussain Sajwani
Updated 26 min 14 sec ago
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Dubai property developer Damac on hunt for land in Saudi Arabia

  • Brexit a “concern” for UK property market says Sajwani
  • Developer mulls investing “up to £500 million” on London project

DUBAI: The Dubai-listed developer Damac says it is scouting for additional plots of land in Saudi Arabia, both in established cities and the Kingdom’s emerging giga-projects such as Neom.
Hussain Sajwani, chairman of Damac Properties, also said the company would look to invest up to £500 million ($660 million) on a second development in the UK, and that it is on track to deliver a record 7,000 or more units this year.
Amid a slowing property market in Dubai, Damac’s base, the developer is eying Saudi Arabia as a potential ground for expansion for its high-spec residential projects.
Damac has one development in Jeddah, and a twin-tower project in Riyadh — and Sajwani said it is looking for additional plots in the Kingdom.
“It’s a big market. It is changing, it is opening up, so we see a potential there … We are looking,” he said.
“In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is the biggest economy … They have some very ambitious projects, like the Neom city and other large projects. We’re watching those and studying them very carefully.”
The $500 billion Neom project, which was announced in 2017, is set to be a huge economic zone with residential, commercial and tourist facilities on the Red Sea coast.
Sajwani said doing business in Saudi Arabia was “a bit more difficult or complicated” that the UAE, but said the country is opening up, citing moves to allow women to drive and reopen cinemas.
He was speaking to Arab News in Damac’s London sales office, opposite the Harrods department store in Knightsbridge. The office, kitted out in plush Versace furnishings, is selling units at Damac’s first development in the UK, the Damac Tower Nine Elms London.
The 50-storey development is in a new urban district south of the River Thames, which is also home to the US Embassy and the famous Battersea Power Station, which is being redeveloped as a residential and commercial property.
Work on Damac's tower is underway and is due to complete in late 2020 or early 2021, Sajwani said.
“We have sold more than 60 percent of the project,” he said. “It’s very mixed, we have (buyers) from the UK, from Asia, the Middle East.”
Damac’s first London project was launched in 2015, the year before the referendum on the UK exiting the EU — the result of which has had a knock-on effect on the London property market.
“Definitely Brexit has cause a lot of concern, people are not clear where the situation will go. Overall, the market has suffered because of Brexit,” Sajwani said.
“It’s going to be difficult for the coming two years at least … unless (the UK decides) to stay in the EU.”
Despite the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, Sajwani said Damac was looking for additional plots of land in London, both in the “golden triangle” — the pricey areas of Mayfair, Belgravia and Knightsbridge, which are popular with Gulf investors — and new residential districts like Nine Elms.
Sajwani is considering an investment of “up to £500 million” on a new project in the UK capital.
“We are looking aggressively, and spending a lot of time … finding other opportunities,” he said. “Our appetite for London is there.”
Damac is also considering other international property markets for expansion, including parts of Europe and North American cities like Toronto, Boston, New York and Miami, Sajwani said.
The international drive by Damac comes, however, amid a tough property market in the developer’s home market of Dubai.
Damac in February reported that its 2018 profits fell by nearly 60 percent, with its fourth-quarter profit tumbling by 87 percent, according to Reuters calculations.
Sajwani — whose company attracted headlines for its partnership with the Trump Organization for two golf courses in Dubai — does not see any immediate recovery in the emirate’s property market, or Damac’s financial results.
“(With) the market being soft, prices being under pressure, we are part of the market — we are not going to do better than last year,” he said. “This year and next year are going to be difficult years. But it’s a great opportunity for the buyers.”
But the developer said Dubai was “very strong fundamentally,” citing factors like its advanced infrastructure, safety and security, and low taxes.
In 2018, Damac delivered over 4,100 units — a record for the company — and this year, despite the difficult market, it plans to hand over even more.
“We’re expecting north of 7,000,” Sajwani said. “This year will be another record.”