Facing a fresh charge, former Nissan chairman Ghosn gets ready to ‘tell the truth’

An internal probe by Nissan has found Carlos Ghosn had approved over $30 million in payments to a distributor in Oman. (AFP)
Updated 03 April 2019
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Facing a fresh charge, former Nissan chairman Ghosn gets ready to ‘tell the truth’

  • Japanese investigators are reportedly eyeing a possible aggravated breach of trust charge against Carlos Ghosn
  • ‘I’m getting ready to tell the truth about what’s happening’

TOKYO: Tokyo prosecutors are considering pressing a fresh charge against Carlos Ghosn, local media said Wednesday, as the former Nissan boss announced on Twitter he would be giving his side of the story.
In the latest twist in a rollercoaster of a case, Japanese investigators are reportedly eyeing a possible aggravated breach of trust charge related to at least $32 million in Nissan funds transferred to a distributor in Oman.
Some of the money is believed to have been used to buy a luxury boat allegedly used by Ghosn and his family, according to a source familiar with the matter.
If Tokyo prosecutors were to proceed, it would be the fourth criminal charge against the 65-year-old former high-flying auto executive, who denies all allegations.
Ghosn already faces three charges of financial misconduct over allegations he under-reported his compensation and sought to transfer personal losses to Nissan’s books.
Tokyo district prosecutors are discussing the case with more senior colleagues before deciding whether to move ahead, Japanese media said.
Shortly after the reports emerged, a verified Twitter account in Ghosn’s name said he would be speaking to journalists next week.
“I’m getting ready to tell the truth about what’s happening. Press conference on Thursday, April 11,” said the tweet, sent early Wednesday afternoon.


A spokeswoman for the executive later confirmed the news conference in a statement to AFP.
If prosecutors were to file new charges, it would not necessarily mean Ghosn returns to the detention center where he spent more than three months before winning bail on March 6, according to a local lawyer.
“The prosecutor can hit Ghosn with new charges without sending him back to prison. Prosecutors would need to again justify a detention by saying he was a flight risk and could destroy evidence and the chances seem fairly slim,” said the lawyer, who asked to remain anonymous.
The news came after it emerged that lawyers for Renault — Nissan’s parent company that Ghosn also led — have handed over documents to prosecutors showing millions of euros in payments to the firm’s distributors in Oman.
An internal probe by Nissan, which is cooperating with prosecutors, has found Ghosn had approved over $30 million in payments to a distributor in Oman, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to AFP.
Some of this money ended up in personal accounts, or was used for purchases and investments by Ghosn — mainly to buy a yacht and make investments via his son’s firm — according to this person.
A spokesperson for Ghosn has already rejected these allegations.
“The payments made by Renault to the distributor in Oman have not been diverted from their commercial objectives and under no circumstances has all or part of such payments benefited Carlos Ghosn or his family,” said the representative in a statement.
In a bolt from the blue that rocked Japan and the business world, Ghosn was arrested on November 19 after prosecutors stormed his private jet at a Tokyo airport and took him into custody.
He spent more than 100 days in detention with limited access to lawyers before being released on a bail of nearly $9 million.
Nissan swiftly removed him as chairman and is also expected to remove him from the board at an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting slated for Monday.

 


Oil dips on soaring US supply, but Iran sanctions still support crude

Updated 32 min 37 sec ago
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Oil dips on soaring US supply, but Iran sanctions still support crude

  • US sanctions against Iran have denied its government more than $10 billion in oil revenue so far
  • US crude oil production has risen to a record of 12.2 million barrels per day

SINGAPORE: Oil prices dipped on Thursday as record US output and rising crude stockpiles dampened the impact on markets of tighter US sanctions on Iran and producer club OPEC’s continued curbs on supply.
Brent crude futures were at $74.53 per barrel at 0241 GMT, down 4 cents from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $65.75 per barrel, down 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their previous settlement.
Crude futures rose to 2019 highs earlier in the week after the United States said on Monday it would end all exemptions for sanctions against Iran, demanding countries halt oil imports from Tehran from May or face punitive action from Washington.
“Following the US decision to toughen its sanctions on Iran ... we have revised up our end-year forecast for Brent crude from $50 to $60 per barrel,” analysts at Capital Economics said in a note.
US sanctions against Iran have denied its government more than $10 billion in oil revenue since President Donald Trump first announced the move last May, a US official said on Thursday during a media call.
“Before sanctions ... Iran generated as much as $50 billion annually in oil revenue. We estimate that our sanctions have already denied the regime more than $10 billion since May (2018),” said Brian Hook, US Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary of State.
The US decision try and bring down Iran oil exports to zero comes amid supply cuts led by producer Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries since the start of the year aimed at propping up prices.
As a result, Brent crude oil prices have risen by almost 40 percent since January.
Despite this, Capital Economics said “we still expect oil prices to fall this year as sluggish global growth weighs on oil demand, US shale output grows strongly and investor aversion to risk assets like commodities increases.”
In Asia, South Korea’s economy unexpectedly shrank in the first quarter, the Bank of Korea said on Thursday, marking its worst performance since the global financial crisis.
On the supply side, US crude oil production has risen by more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) since early 2018 to a record of 12.2 million bpd currently, making the United States the world’s biggest oil producer ahead of Russia and Saudi Arabia.
In part because of soaring domestic production, US commercial crude oil inventories last week hit an October 2017 high of 460.63 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. That was a rise of 1.3 million barrels.