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

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.


Japan’s Uniqlo pulls ad after South Korean fury

Updated 21 October 2019

Japan’s Uniqlo pulls ad after South Korean fury

  • South Korean and Japanese relationship is deeply strained by the legacy of Tokyo’s 20th-century expansionism
  • Seoul and Tokyo are currently locked in a bitter trade and diplomatic row stemming from historical disputes
SEOUL: Japanese retail giant Uniqlo has pulled a commercial featuring a 98-year-old US fashion figure from South Korean screens, it said Monday after it was accused of whitewashing colonial history.
South Korea and Japan are both US allies, democracies and market economies faced with an overbearing China and nuclear-armed North Korea, but their relationship is deeply strained by the legacy of Tokyo’s 20th-century expansionism.
The latest example is an advert for Uniqlo fleeces showing elderly fashion celebrity Iris Apfel chatting with designer Kheris Rogers, 85 years her junior.
The last line has the white-haired Apfel, asked how she used to dress as a teenager, innocuously responding: “Oh my God. I can’t remember that far back.”
But Uniqlo’s Korean arm subtitled its version of the ad slightly differently, reading: “I can’t remember things that happened more than 80 years ago.”
That would put the moment as 1939, toward the end of Japan’s brutal colonial rule over the Korean peninsula, where the period is still bitterly resented, and some South Koreans reacted furiously.
“A nation that forgets history has no future. We can’t forget what happened 80 years ago that Uniqlo made fun of,” commented one Internet user on Naver, the country’s largest portal.
The phrase “Uniqlo, comfort women,” in reference to women forced to become sex slaves to Japanese troops during the Second World War, was among the most searched terms on Naver at the weekend, and demonstrators protested outside Uniqlo shops on Monday.
Seoul and Tokyo are currently locked in a bitter trade and diplomatic row stemming from historical disputes, and South Korean consumers have mounted boycotts of Japanese products.
Uniqlo — which has 186 stores in South Korea — has itself been one of the highest-profile targets, while Japanese carmakers’ sales dropped nearly 60 percent year-on-year in September.
The company denied the allegations in a statement, saying the text was altered to highlight the age gap between the individuals and show that its fleeces were for people “across generations.”
“The ad had no intention whatsoever to imply anything” about colonial rule, a Uniqlo representative said on Monday, adding the firm had withdrawn the ad in an effort at damage control.
Analysts said the controversy demonstrated the politicization of the neighbors’ complex history.
The reaction was excessive, said Kim Sung-han, a former foreign affairs vice minister who teaches at Korea University, involving a “jump in logic” that “assumes everything Uniqlo does is political as a Japanese company.”
“I don’t see how her remark could be linked to the comfort women issue,” he added. “This is overly sensitive.”