Ghosn held $260,000 Rio party billed to Renault-Nissan

Former Renault and Nissan head Carlos Ghosn is under arrest in Tokyo facing charges of financial misconduct. (AFP)
Updated 21 February 2019
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Ghosn held $260,000 Rio party billed to Renault-Nissan

  • Ghosn invited eight couples to watch the Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro in February last year from a beach-side luxury hotel
  • News of the party is the latest evidence of Ghosn’s expensive lifestyle to emerge as his time as one of the top executives in the auto industry faces fresh scrutiny

PARIS: Former Renault and Nissan head Carlos Ghosn and his wife invited friends to a $260,000 Carnival party in Brazil last year and charged it to his employers, documents seen by AFP show, a move Ghosn’s lawyer defended as a routine corporate function for a multinational CEO.
News of the party is the latest evidence of Ghosn’s expensive lifestyle to emerge as his time as one of the top executives in the auto industry faces fresh scrutiny following his arrest in Tokyo last November.
According to documents seen by AFP, which confirm a report in the Express magazine, Ghosn invited eight couples to watch the Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro in February last year from a beach-side luxury hotel.
While the guests were asked to pay their own air fare, the invitations specified that local teams would take charge of transport, lodging and other expenses.
“On behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Ghosn, I have the pleasure to inform you that they would be delighted if you would accept to be their guest at the 2018 Rio Carnival,” according to the December 2017 email invitation.
“You will be responsible to book your flight and the team will take care of you from the Rio airport,” it said, adding that the guests would be staying at the beachside Hilton Hotel in Copacabana.
The event required costly security measures including two bullet-proof vehicles which were put at the guests’ disposal.
Nissan’s Brazilian subsidiary later sent a bill of $257,872 (€227,000) to the Renault-Nissan holding company based in the Netherlands.
The Dutch firm coordinates the operations of the French-Japanese alliance, which Ghosn built into the world’s top-selling automotive group before his stunning downfall on charges of under-reporting his salary.
The 64-year-old French-Brazilian-Lebanese executive has denied any wrongdoing, but remains in detention awaiting a trial in Japan which could still be months away.
“Friendly relations do not preclude business relations, they can even help them,” Ghosn’s French lawyer Jean-Yves Le Borgne told AFP.
“We’re told it involved Carlos Ghosn’s personal relationships, but does that mean we can conclude there was some form of misuse of funds at the alliance?” he said.
Among the guests were Mario Saradar of the family-owned Lebanese banking group, where Ghosn sits on the board; and Misbah Ahdab, a Lebanese lawmaker.
American property developer Harry Macklowe was also invited, as was Khalil Daoud, head of the Lebanese postal service.
“Before getting indignant, we should check if they were truly not involved in any Renault-Nissan business,” Le Borgne said, noting that the Lebanese post office “required a large fleet of automobiles.”
Renault has said it is reviewing Ghosn’s tenure as chief executive, a post he resigned last month following his dismissal as chairman of Nissan and their other alliance partner Mitsubishi.
Earlier this month, Renault said it had informed prosecutors about a suspect transaction involving Ghosn’s extravagant wedding at the Versailles Palace outside Paris in 2016.
Versailles waived the usual €50,000 rental fee for the wedding under a sponsorship deal signed between the palace and Renault months before.
Le Borgne has said Ghosn is ready to repay the bill.


Paris Air Show: After Boeing showstopper, Airbus seeks order bounce

Updated 19 June 2019
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Paris Air Show: After Boeing showstopper, Airbus seeks order bounce

  • British Airways owner IAG signs letter of intent to buy 200 of its 737 MAX jets
  • Airbus is looking for up to 200 orders for the A321XLR, which is designed to open up new routes

PARIS: Airbus, reeling from the potential loss of a major customer for its best-selling A320neo as British Airways owner IAG placed a lifeline order for the grounded 737 MAX, prepared to hit back with more orders for its A321XLR on Wednesday.
The planemaker has been negotiating with US airlines investor Bill Franke whose Indigo Partners has also been known to place orders for multiple airlines within its portfolio and could reel it in for the Paris Air Show, industry sources said.
Airbus declined to comment.
After weathering intense scrutiny over safety and its public image, Boeing won a vote of confidence on Tuesday as IAG signed a letter of intent to buy 200 of its 737 MAX jets that have been grounded since March after two deadly crashes.
The surprise order lifted the energy of a previously subdued Paris Airshow, where the talk had been of the possible end of the aerospace cycle, given the issues at both Boeing and Airbus as well as geopolitical and trade tensions around the world.
Australia’s Qantas Airways said on Tuesday it would order 10 Airbus new A321XLR jets and convert a further 26 from existing orders already on the Airbus books.
Airbus is also in talks with leasing company GECAS and has been trying to secure an eye-catching order for the A321XLR from American Airlines, though the world’s largest carrier does not typically make announcements at air shows.
Airbus is looking for up to 200 orders for the A321XLR, which is designed to open up new routes.