Former Nissan chief Ghosn set for court hearing in Japan over detention

Authorities are pursuing three separate lines of enquiry against Carlos Ghosn, involving alleged financial wrongdoing during his tenure as Nissan chief. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2019
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Former Nissan chief Ghosn set for court hearing in Japan over detention

  • The once-revered auto tycoon was arrested on his private jet at a Tokyo airport on November 19
  • Authorities are pursuing three separate lines of enquiry against the French-Lebanese-Brazilian executive

TOKYO: Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn is likely to appear in a Japanese court to hear the reasons for his detention, possibly within days, after his lawyers deployed a little-used article of the Constitution.
A public hearing could take place within five days, according to public broadcaster NHK, after the executive’s attorneys lodged a request with the Tokyo District Court that it cannot legally refuse.
It is the latest in a series of unexpected twists in a case that has gripped Japan and the business world since the once-revered auto tycoon was arrested on his private jet at a Tokyo airport on November 19.
“Mr Ghosn today submitted a request for the disclosure of the reasons for his detention. No date has been set,” the court said.
NHK said Ghosn wants to attend the hearing himself if there is one.
Article 34 of Japan’s Constitution stipulates that “no person shall be arrested or detained without being at once informed of the charges against him or without the immediate privilege of counsel.”
“Nor shall he be detained without adequate cause; and upon demand of any person such cause must be immediately shown in open court in his presence and the presence of his counsel,” it says.
Ghosn was spending the beginning of 2019 in detention after the court last week extended his detention through to January 11 on allegations of aggravated breach of trust.
He was re-arrested over these allegations on December 21, dashing his hopes of being home for Christmas.
Since his shock arrest on November 19, the case has shone a light on the Japanese legal system, which has come in for some criticism internationally.
Authorities are pursuing three separate lines of enquiry against the 64-year-old Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian executive, involving alleged financial wrongdoing during his tenure as Nissan chief.
They suspect he conspired with his right-hand man, US executive Greg Kelly, to hide away around half of his income (some five billion yen or $44 million) over five fiscal years from 2010.
They also allege he under-reported his salary to the tune of four billion yen over the next three fiscal years — apparently to avoid criticism that his pay was too high.
They are also investigating a complex third claim that alleges Ghosn sought to shift a personal investment loss onto Nissan’s books.
Prosecutors have pressed formal charges over the first allegation but not yet over the other accusations.


US economists less optimistic, see slower growth: survey

Updated 25 March 2019
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US economists less optimistic, see slower growth: survey

  • While the odds of a US recession by 2020 remain low, they are rising
  • The odds of a recession starting in 2019 is at around 20 percent, and for 2020 at 35 percent

WASHINGTON: US economists are less optimistic about the outlook and sharply lowered their growth forecasts for this year, amid slowing global growth and continued trade frictions, according to a survey published Monday.
And while the odds of a recession by 2020 remain low, they are rising, the National Association for Business Economics said in their quarterly report.
The panel of 55 economists now believe “the US economy has reached an inflection point,” said NABE President Kevin Swift.
The consensus forecast for real GDP growth was cut by three tenths from the December survey, to 2.4 percent after 2.9 percent expansion in 2018.
The economy is expected to slow further in 2020, with growth of just 2 percent, the report said.
Three-quarters of respondents cut their GDP forecasts and believe the risks of to the economy are weighted to the downside.
“A majority of panelists sees external headwinds from trade policy and slower global growth as the primary downside risks to growth,” NABE survey chair Gregory Daco said in a statement.
“Nonetheless, recession risks are still perceived to be low in the near term.”
Panelists put the odds of a recession starting in 2019 at around 20 percent, and for 2020 at 35 percent, slightly higher than in December.
Daco said that “reflects the Federal Reserve’s dovish policy U-turn in January” when the central bank said it would keep interest rates where they are for the foreseeable future, a message reinforced this week.
After four rate increases last year, Daco said a “near-majority of panelists anticipates only one more interest rate hike in this cycle compared to the three hikes forecasted in the December survey.”
Panelists see wage growth as the biggest upside risk to the economy, despite expected increase of just 3 percent this year, as inflation holds right around the Fed’s 2 percent target.
Meanwhile, amid President Donald Trump’s aggressive tariff policies, the panel projects the trade deficit will rise to a record $978 billion this year, beating last year’s record $914 billion.
In an interesting twist in the survey, only 20 percent said they expected to see the dreaded “inverted yield curve” — when the interest rate on the 10-year Treasury note falls below the 3-month bill — this year.
In fact, the yield curve inverted on Friday for the first time since 2007.