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.


Japan court rejects ex-Nissan chief’s bail appeal

Updated 1 min 40 sec ago
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Japan court rejects ex-Nissan chief’s bail appeal

  • With the latest rejection he faces at least a two-month period in pre-trial detention, which can be extended almost automatically by one month at a time
  • Since his stunning arrest on Nov. 19 the auto tycoon has languished in a Tokyo detention center

TOKYO: Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn will stay behind bars in Japan for the foreseeable future after a Tokyo court quashed his appeal for bail as he faces charges on three counts of financial misconduct.
Since his stunning arrest on November 19 the auto tycoon has languished in a Tokyo detention center, facing questioning over allegations he under-reported his salary and tried to shift personal losses on to the company.
The court had previously refused to release the 64-year-old Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian businessman on the grounds that he could present a flight risk and destroy evidence.
Last week he was formally charged on two of the counts and his request for bail was denied. Even his own lawyer has admitted he is likely to be kept behind bars until a trial — which could take six months.
His legal team said they would now appeal to the Supreme Court.
The appeal — and its rejection — came as the French government called for him to be replaced at the head of Renault, the only one of the three companies he used to head that has retained him.
Japanese firms Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors jettisoned him as boss almost immediately after his arrest, but Renault was more cautious and appointed an interim leader while Ghosn fought the charges.
With the latest rejection he faces at least a two-month period in pre-trial detention. This can be extended almost automatically by one month at a time.
His wife Carole has appealed to rights group Human Rights Watch over his detention, saying he was being held in “harsh” conditions and subjected to round-the-clock interrogations in an attempt to extract a confession.
Ghosn has been seen only once in public since his detention, in a dramatic court appearance.
He had clearly lost a lot of weight but seemed otherwise in good health. He passionately proclaimed his innocence and his love for Nissan, a company he is widely credited with saving from the brink of bankruptcy.
“I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations,” Ghosn told a packed courtroom.