Ghosn to reveal who he blames for arrest in Japan: wife

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, left, and his wife Carole leave the office of his lawyer Junichiro Hironaka in Tokyo on April 3, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 07 April 2019

Ghosn to reveal who he blames for arrest in Japan: wife

  • Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was re-arrested last week in Japan over fresh allegations of financial misconduct
  • Carole Ghosn has flown to Paris to try to pressure the French government to do more for her husband

PARIS: Arrested former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn is set to name the people he believes are responsible for his downfall in Japan, his wife said in an interview on Sunday as she fled Tokyo out of fear she could be detained.
Ghosn was re-arrested last week in the Japanese capital over fresh allegations of financial misconduct which will see him held in custody until at least April 14.
Speaking to the Journal du Dimanche newspaper in France, his wife Carole detailed the latest twists in the extraordinary saga, saying that Ghosn had recorded a video interview in English before his detention.
“He names the people responsible for what has happened to him. The lawyers have it. It will be released soon,” she told the newspaper.
Carole added that she had fled Tokyo on a flight to Paris — with support from the French ambassador to Tokyo — because she “felt in danger.”
Despite her Lebanese passport being confiscated by Japanese authorities, Carole said she was able to use her American passport to board a flight and was accompanied by the ambassador to the airport.
“He didn’t leave me until the plane,” she explained. “Up to the last second, I didn’t know if they were going to let me fly. It was surreal.”
The role of the French ambassador could lead to fresh friction between the countries over the highly sensitive case, which involves Nissan and French car maker Renault, which were both previously run by Ghosn.
Japanese news channel NHK said prosecutors in Tokyo wanted to question Carole on a voluntary basis.
Other reports in Japan say that investigators are looking into allegations that company money allegedly misused by Ghosn could have transited through a business that was run by his wife.
Carole intends now to try to pressure the French government to do more for her husband whose 108-day imprisonment in Japan between November 19 and March 6 had left him a “different person,” she told The Financial Times in a separate interview.
France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Saturday he had raised the case during talks with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on the sidelines of the meeting of Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers in the French resort of Dinard.
Le Drian said he had “reminded him of our attachment to the presumption of innocence and the full rights of consular protection.”
Japanese authorities are looking into new allegations that Ghosn transferred some $15 million in Nissan funds between late 2015 and mid-2018 to a dealership in Oman.
They suspect around $5 million of these funds were siphoned off for Ghosn’s use, including for the purchase of a luxury yacht and financing personal investments.
Prosecutors say Ghosn “betrayed” his duty not to cause losses to Nissan “in order to benefit himself.”
Ghosn denies the allegations and says he is also innocent of the three formal charges he faces: two charges of deferring his salary and concealing that in official shareholders’ documents, and a further charge related to investment losses.
The man previously seen as the most powerful figure in the global car industry told French channel TF1 last week that he was “a combative man and an innocent man” and vowed to “defend myself to the bitter end.”
And he voiced concern that he would not be given a fair hearing in Japan where around 99 percent of trials result in a conviction.


A Middle East online tutoring startup eyes Saudi Arabia’s market

Updated 58 min 47 sec ago

A Middle East online tutoring startup eyes Saudi Arabia’s market

  • Platform allows parents and students to find qualified tutors after filtering for price, location or ratings
  • GCC countries tipped to account for 15 million students this year, with increase in demand for tutoring

DUBAI: Hunting for a tutor online? The web is a great place to explore for its dizzying number of options, but as you click and consider each option, their very abundance can at times be confounding.
What should you choose and what should you ignore, especially when the outcome can affect your future?
To take the stress out of this task, Audrey Nakad came up with the idea of Synkers, an app that helps parents and college students find experts for the extra coaching the latter require.
The educational enterprise co-founded by Nakad, a Lebanese-Canadian national, provides information on qualified tutors after filtering for price, location or ratings.

Synkers, an app that helps parents and college students find experts for the extra coaching the latter require. (Supplied)

The tutors are screened and their qualifications verified — they can be professionals or senior students who have scored 95/100 on the courses or subjects they offer.
A separate B2B business model gives educational institutions the option to adopt the entire platform for their own students and access detailed insights and reports.
“Synkers was founded to ease a major pain point for parents: The ability to find qualified and experienced private teachers for their kids,” said Nakad, 28.
The idea was born from personal experience. As an undergraduate in Montreal, she worked as a private tutor and teaching assistant but had a hard time finding students.
At the same time, her sister Sibylle was struggling to find a qualified tutor to help her with her study material.


That led the siblings and their friend Zeina Sultani to found Synkers in Lebanon in September 2017. They began with 40 tutoring hours and 80 tutors.
Initial funding came from the Lebanese government, with Beirut-based technology accelerator [email protected] providing $30,000.
“With $30,000, we were able to build our first prototype, go to market and acquire our first paying customers within three months,” said Nakad.
“Soon after, we closed a seed round of $700,000 from Phoenician Fund I (a venture capital firm). This round allowed us to build a stronger product and team, reach product-market fit and, most importantly, expand to a new market, the UAE.”
By the end of 2019, the educational technology startup had partnered with Lebanon’s Ministry of Education.

FASTFACT

$177.6bn

Revenues generated by private tutoring by 2026. (Source: India-based Zion Market Research)

Over the last four years, Synkers has gained more than 60,000 students, over 1,000
vetted tutors, given 90,000 tutoring sessions, and achieved a 21 percent student improvement rate, according to Nakad.
Worldwide, demand for private tutoring has been growing rapidly. Zion Market Research, an India-based firm, projects that global revenues in the sector will reach $177.6 billion by 2026, up from $96.2 billion in 2017.
The Middle East currently accounts for $3.1 billion of total revenue, Synkers research shows. “With innovation and technology, our world is evolving so fast that our jobs and the skills needed to do them are constantly changing,” said Nakad.
“This makes it very difficult for schools to continually adapt their curriculum and way of teaching to prepare their students for the future.”
As the Gulf alone is expected to account for 15 million school students this year, Synkers hopes to scale up quickly to capitalize on the region’s market growth.

Audrey Nakad came up with the idea of Synkers. (Supplied)

In 2017, the company joined a Dubai Future Accelerators international program that paired innovators with government organizations to solve contemporary challenges.
The resulting collaboration with Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) led to Synkers partnering with the American University in Dubai and Lebanese and French private schools in the UAE.
The next steps for Synkers include expansion into Saudi Arabia, ideally by 2021. Egypt, the region’s largest market by population, will follow in 2022, with Jordan and Bahrain after that.
“We are very excited to announce that we are closing a pre-series A round with strong VCs from the region and Europe in order to grow in the region and enter Saudi Arabia,” said Nakad.

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“In the next five years, we are looking to grow our user base from 60,000 learners to 2 million across the region.
“Our vision is to develop the largest community of knowledge exchange, and empower any knowledge holder to influence and teach the world.”
What sets Synkers apart from other online tutoring companies? Beyond the personalized adaptive learning plans and a significant investment in its tutors, Nakad pointed to the academic and socioeconomic benefits of Synkers’ peer-to-peer system, inspired by Harvard University.
“Students connect with people who are just like them,” she said. “They have the same background and experiences, which allows them to connect on an individual level and work together to mutually succeed.”

  • This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.