Detained again, Nissan ex-chief Ghosn says arrest is ‘outrageous’

Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn leaves his lawyer's office in Tokyo, Japan on April 3, 2019. (Kyodo/via REUTERS)
Updated 04 April 2019
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Detained again, Nissan ex-chief Ghosn says arrest is ‘outrageous’

  • Prosecutors arrest Ghosn who had been released on bail
  • Media report that arrest was over Oman allegation

TOKYO: Japanese prosecutors arrested ousted Nissan Motor Co. boss Carlos Ghosn for a fourth time on Thursday, on what media reports said was a new case over improper payments made by the automaker to a dealer in Oman under his watch.
The re-arrest, which national broadcaster NHK described as a highly unusual move for someone who has been released on bail, marks the latest dramatic twist in the once-feted executive’s fall from grace.
Prosecutors arrested Ghosn on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust, NHK said, after visiting his residence in Tokyo early on Thursday and asking him to submit to questioning. A silver van believed to be carrying Ghosn later left the residence, NHK said.
“My arrest this morning is outrageous and arbitrary,” Ghosn said in a statement emailed by a US-based spokesman.
“It is part of another attempt by some individuals at Nissan to silence me by misleading the prosecutors. Why arrest me except to try to break me? I will not be broken. I am innocent of the groundless charges and accusations against me.”
Nissan said it could not comment on judicial decisions or processes.
Footage of the vehicle leaving the residence showed its windows covered with curtains, making it impossible to see who was riding inside. More than a dozen officials from the prosecutors’ office had arrived earlier at the residence, NHK reported.
No one was immediately available for comment at the Tokyo prosecutors’ office.

The arrest comes just a day after Ghosn pledged on Twitter that he would hold a news conference on April 11 to “tell the truth” about the allegations against him.
“After being wrongly imprisoned for 108 days, my biggest hope and wish today is for a fair trial,” Ghosn added in the emailed statement.
“I was scheduled to present my story in a press conference next week; by arresting me again, the prosecutors have denied me that opportunity, for now, but I am determined that the truth will come out. I am confident that if tried fairly, I will be vindicated.”
Ghosn was first arrested in Tokyo in November and faces charges of financial misconduct and aggravated breach of trust over allegedly failing to report around $82 million in salary and temporarily transferring personal financial losses onto Nissan’s books during the financial crisis.
Released on $9 million bail on March 6, Ghosn says he is the victim of a boardroom coup.
Ghosn’s lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, called the latest arrest “inappropriate.”

Suspect payments
Sources told Reuters earlier this week that Nissan partner Renault SA had alerted French prosecutors after uncovering suspect payments to a Renault-Nissan business partner in Oman while Ghosn was chief executive of the French automaker.
Ghosn’s spokesman has previously said payments of $32 million made over nine years were rewards for the Oman firm being a top Nissan dealer. Such dealer incentives were not directed by Ghosn and the funds were not used to pay any personal debt, the spokesman said.
Nissan had previously established its own regional subsidiary made questionable payments of more than $30 million to the Oman distributor, Suhail Bahwan Automobiles (SBA).
Evidence sent to French prosecutors late last week showed that much of the cash was subsequently channelled to a Lebanese company controlled by Ghosn associates, the sources said.
Reuters has not been able to reach SBA for comment on the matter.


Singapore luxury apartment sales surge to 11-year high

Updated 20 September 2019

Singapore luxury apartment sales surge to 11-year high

  • Sales of such apartments also exceeded the numbers racked up for each full year from 2011 to 2018, the consultants’ analysis of transaction data shows

SINGAPORE: Sales of Singapore apartments worth at least S$10 million ($7.3 million) have hit an 11-year high, fueled by increased demand from Chinese millionaires seeking safe-haven assets, say property consultants OrangeTee & Tie.

Investors have long viewed Singapore as an island of stability that attracts the super-rich from its less developed Southeast Asian neighbors, as well as multimillionaires from mainland China.

In the first eight months of 2019, 68 condominium units in the wealthy Asian city-state were sold for S$10 million and more, the highest tally since the corresponding period of 2008.

Sales of such apartments also exceeded the numbers racked up for each full year from 2011 to 2018, the consultants’ analysis of transaction data shows.

Some buyers may have sought an alternative to rival financial hub Hong Kong, hit by protests, while others may have shifted funds from China after its yuan currency was devalued in a trade war with the US, an OrangeTee expert said.

“This may explain why we have observed more foreign buyers, especially mainland Chinese, coming into Singapore lately,” said Christine Sun, its head of research and consultancy.

Mainland Chinese are the biggest group of foreign buyers of Singapore luxury homes.

In Singapore’s prime districts, Chinese citizens bought 76 apartments worth more than S$5 million from January to August, versus 75 purchases by Singaporeans, data until Sept. 19 show.

Expensive apartments in premium neighborhoods are mainly bought by foreigners, because at such high prices Singaporeans have the option to buy landed property, such as bungalows and mansions.

Singapore does not allow foreigners to buy landed homes, except for those on the resort island of Sentosa.

“We do see that even though the stamp duties have increased .... we are still seeing people putting big money on these apartments, predominantly it is more for stability than anything else,” said Boon Hoe Leong, chief operating officer of high-end realtor List Sotheby’s International Realty.

He was referring to measures Singapore adopted last year to cool its real estate market, such as hiking additional stamp duties for foreign buyers to 20 percent from 15 percent.

“They are parking their money here — they know that the Sing dollar won’t depreciate overnight,” he added.