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

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.


Vaccine progress lifts stocks, dollar still sickly

Updated 24 November 2020

Vaccine progress lifts stocks, dollar still sickly

  • STOXX index of Europe’s 600 largest firms rises to its highest since February

LONDON: Investors scooped up stocks, commodities and emerging-market currencies and gave the dollar a wide berth as AstraZeneca and Oxford University provided markets with their now-regular Monday shot of encouraging COVID-19 vaccine news.

The STOXX index of Europe’s 600 largest firms rose to its highest since February, Wall Street was pointing up 0.6 percent and Brent futures were nearly 1.5 percent stronger. AstraZeneca and Oxford vaccine, which is set to cost just a few dollars a shot and should be easier to ramp up and store than vaccines by Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna, could also be up to 90 percent effective.

As the dollar buckled through a range it has been in for the past few months, the euro touched $1.19, but it was the emerging markets that are likely to benefit from a cheaper and easier-to-store drug that rallied the most.

South Africa’s rand shrugged off a double sovereign credit-rating downgrade over the weekend to add 0.8 percent. Russia’s rouble and Mexican peso both climbed half a percent to bolster their stellar months.

“The combined vaccine news of the last few weeks ... will lead to a much faster pace of normalization to our daily lives compared to what we would have assumed just a few weeks ago,” analysts at Deutsche Bank said.

Markets’ optimism also came after a top official of the US government’s vaccine-development effort said Sunday that the first vaccines there could be given to US health care workers and some others by mid-December.

US shares looked set to mimic gains in Europe and Asia, as Nasdaq futures rose 0.4 percent, Dow futures rose 0.7 percent, and US e-mini futures for the S&P 500 were 0.6 percent higher at 3,576.

The rally also showed investors are willing to look past the grim US case numbers — which topped 12 million over the weekend — and mixed European economic data released on Monday. IHS Markit’s headline flash composite PMI, seen as a good guide to economic health, fell to 45.1 in November from October’s 50.0 — the level separating growth from contraction. A Reuters poll had predicted a shallower dip to 46.1.

The composite future output index jumped to 60.1 from 56.5, its highest since February.

“Today’s vaccine news is positive, but it is only partly responsible for the rally in stock markets,” said Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec in London. “(It) is also being driven by the news that the US hopes to start the vaccination program in under three weeks.”