Ex-Nissan chair Ghosn indicted for alleged breach of trust

Carlos Ghosn has denied all the allegations against him. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 January 2019
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Ex-Nissan chair Ghosn indicted for alleged breach of trust

  • Ghosn was detained on Nov. 19. Earlier, he was charged with falsifying financial reports in underreporting his income
  • Ghosn’s lawyer said he would request Ghosn be granted release on bail

TOKYO: Nissan’s ex-chairman Carlos Ghosn was charged Friday with breach of trust in the latest blow for the star executive, according to the Tokyo District Court.
Ghosn was detained on Nov. 19. Earlier, he was charged with falsifying financial reports in underreporting his income by about 5 billion yen ($44 million) over five years through 2015.
Ghosn; Greg Kelly, another Nissan executive; and Nissan as a legal entity were charged Friday with additional underreporting of income, from 2015 through fiscal 2017.
Ghosn’s lawyer said he would request Ghosn be granted release on bail. His detention period for the breach of trust allegations was due to expire Friday.
Kelly and Nissan were not charged with breach of trust. Those allegations center on Ghosn’s handling of investment losses and payments made to a Saudi businessman.
Ghosn, 64, says he’s innocent.
Suspects in Japan are routinely held for months until trials start.
Tokyo prosecutors say Ghosn, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, is a flight risk.
Earlier this week Ghosn told a Tokyo court he was innocent, in his first public appearance since his arrest, and appealed for his detention to end. But the court rejected the request.
“I have a genuine love and appreciation for Nissan,” Ghosn told the court. “In all of my efforts on behalf of the company, I have acted honorably, legally and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company.”
He said the compensation was never decided on, the investment deal never resulted in any losses to Nissan, and the payments to the Saudi businessman was for legitimate services related to dealers and investments in the Gulf.
Ghosn, who appeared much thinner than before his arrest, came down with a fever the day after his court appearance, but has since recovered, his lawyer Motonari Ohtsuru said.
His wife Carole Ghosn issued a statement overnight out of Paris, expressing concern over his sickness.
“I am pleading with the Japanese authorities to provide us with any information at all about my husband’s health. We are fearful and very worried his recovery will be complicated while he continues to endure such harsh conditions and unfair treatment,” she said.
Apart from prosecutors, only embassy officials and Ghosn’s lawyers are allowed to visit him. Such visits were canceled Thursday but resumed Friday.
Before his sudden downfall, Ghosn was a respected figure in the global auto industry, having rescued the Japanese automaker from near-bankruptcy, building its sales operations and profits and pioneering ecological vehicles.
Nissan says an internal investigation began middle of last year after whistleblowers came forward. Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa has denounced Ghosn, accusing him of using company money and assets for personal gain.
Ethics officials at Nissan’s alliance partner Renault SA of France concluded this week that financial compensation to members of the French automaker’s executive committee in 2017 and 2018 was fraud-free. The review was initiated after Ghosn was arrested. Ghosn remains CEO of Renault.


Time to tear down Mideast trade barriers, Davos panel hears

Updated 23 January 2019
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Time to tear down Mideast trade barriers, Davos panel hears

  • Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi minister of economy and planning, said a move to ease movement of traffic across the border could be followed elsewhere
  • Majid Al Futtaim CEO Alain Bejjani: Now there’s this seriousness between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, I hope it gets to frictionless trade

DAVOS: Amid global trade wars and the rise of protectionism, Middle East economic and business leaders on Tuesday issued a clarion call for the exact opposite: To ease customs restrictions in the region.
A panel at Davos heard how an agreement between Saudi Arabia and the UAE to boost cooperation — including the reduction of obstacles to trade across the shared border — could be a blueprint for the wider region.
Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi minister of economy and planning, said a move to ease movement of traffic across the border — partly through the use of technology — could be followed elsewhere. “We want to establish a reference for others to follow,” he said.
Alain Bejjani, CEO of retail and leisure group Majid Al Futtaim, said “frictionless trade” would give the region a boost.
“Now there’s this seriousness between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, I hope it gets to frictionless trade,” he told Arab News on the sidelines of the Davos forum.
Bejjani declined to say whether that would involve a customs union, a common market or a common currency. Given the imposition of trade tariffs between the US and China, and the rise of Brexit, globalization — something espoused by many Davos delegates — is seen as on the wane.
But Bejjani said breaking down barriers in the Middle East could help it better compete with Western Europe and the US.
“For the past almost century now… we’ve been ingeniously working on making sure we put barriers across the Arab world. The reality is we have a market that’s as big as most of the largest markets in the world… if we’re smart enough to work together,” he told the Davos panel.
Khalid Al-Rumaihi, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, agreed that Saudi-UAE cooperation was “a great template” for others to follow.
Aside from “opening up” Middle East markets, Al-Rumaihi said harmonizing regulation in the region would also be beneficial to businesses and entrepreneurs.
“If the rules are changing in each country, if they’re not harmonized, it’s very difficult… for an entrepreneur (to understand) the regulatory environment. So they don’t scale very quickly, and that’s something we need to solve,” he said. Talk of freer trade within the Middle East is especially relevant when it comes to the Palestinian territories, which are subject to Israeli occupation and blockade.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said freer movement and a reduction of duties would help the economy grow.
“We need to see our products being waived (of) customs,” he said. “We need mobility — we’re under occupation.”