Ghosn accuses Nissan executives of ‘backstabbing’ plot

Journalists look on as a video of former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn is played during a press conference on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 09 April 2019

Ghosn accuses Nissan executives of ‘backstabbing’ plot

  • The video was recorded shortly before Ghosn was rearrested last week on new allegations
  • A court has extended his detention until April 14

TOKYO: Carlos Ghosn has accused “backstabbing” Nissan executives of a “conspiracy” that led to his arrest, in a video revealed Tuesday by his representatives.
The video was recorded shortly before Ghosn was rearrested last week by prosecutors in Tokyo on new allegations. He had been out on bail while facing three charges of financial misconduct.
In the brief video, played by his lawyers at a press conference, Ghosn repeated that he was “innocent of all the charges that have been brought against me.”
He denounced a “conspiracy” against him and said events had been “twisted in a way to paint a personage of greed, a personage of dictatorship.”
“This is about a plot, this is about conspiracy, this is about backstabbing,” he said in the video.
Ghosn did not however name specific individuals at Nissan, with his lawyer saying that the defense team had opted to cut parts of the recording that pointed the finger at particular figures.
Ghosn was rearrested by prosecutors last week while out on bail in Tokyo after they announced they were investigating new allegations against him.
A court has extended his detention until April 14, when prosecutors can apply to hold him for an additional 10 days before they must release him unless they bring charges or file new allegations.
Prosecutors said Ghosn had been detained over transfers of Nissan funds totaling $15 million between late 2015 and the middle of 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 accuse Ghosn of having “betrayed” his duty not to cause losses to Nissan “in order to benefit himself.”
Ghosn already faces three formal charges: two of deferring his salary and concealing that in official shareholders’ documents, and a further charge of seeking to shift investment losses to the firm.
Ghosn’s case has defied expectations from the start, with his shock November 19 arrest after he landed in Tokyo on a private jet.
He spent 108 days in a detention center in northern Tokyo before being dramatically released on bail of around $9 million on March 6, emerging from incarceration dressed in a workman’s uniform and face mask in an apparent bid to avoid the media.
He then lived in a court-appointed apartment in Tokyo without commenting on his situation despite huge international and Japanese media interest in his case that has shocked and surprised from the beginning.
However, just as reports began to surface that he could be rearrested, Ghosn emerged on Twitter to announce plans to hold a news conference on April 11.
His rearrest came just days after news that Renault, which Ghosn also once headed, had handed French prosecutors documents showing suspicious transfers worth millions of euros authorized by the auto tycoon.
Shortly after his arrest, his wife Carole — who had been living in Tokyo with Ghosn while he was on bail — left Japan.
She told a French newspaper she had been forced to flee Tokyo with support from the French ambassador and was able to use her US passport after having to surrender her Lebanese one to prosecutors.


Virus pressure tests Saudi Arabia reforms as Aramco has Forbes debut

Updated 28 May 2020

Virus pressure tests Saudi Arabia reforms as Aramco has Forbes debut

  • ‘In terms of profits, the Saudi companies have done well. We will see more companies rising in the next few years

RIYADH: Saudi companies such as oil giant Aramco are displaying resilience in the face of the coronavirus pandemic because of reforms introduced before its arrival, say analysts.

The world’s largest oil company has become emblematic of wider corporate reforms triggered by the Saudi Vision 2030 blueprint for social and economic change.

Saudi Aramco this month appeared in the top five of the Forbes Global 2000 list, which ranks the world’s 2000 largest companies.

It comes as the world’s most profitable company reported profits on $88.2 billion last year.

This year’s rankings arrive amid a global pandemic which has devastated the earnings of some companies, improved the position of others and tested the resilience of all.

It has also shone a spotlight on the ability of the the Kingdom’s top companies to withstand the twin shock of the COVID-19 lockdown and the collapse of oil prices.

Saudi Aramco debuted on the prestigious Forbes list after completing the world’s largest initial public offering last year.

The rankings are based on a combination of sales, profits, market capitalization and assets. Three of the top five companies on the list are from China, including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in the top spot for the eighth straight year with more than $4.3 trillion in assets.

Forbes noted that many of the companies on its list have come through a particularly difficult first quarter as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or what it describes as “The Great Cessation.”

“Many companies and organizations have faced difficulties in managing and mitigating the impact of COVID-19 crisis. However, there are some companies that have prepared well and put in action plans to avoid this crisis with the least damage,” said Fahad Alfaifi, a Saudi-based strategy and business planning consultant.

The pandemic has come at a time of historic change in the Kingdom’s corporate landscape driven by economic reforms which form a major part of the Vision 2030 agenda. This aims to reduce the country’s reliance on oil revenues and stimulate investment in sectors of the economy that create new jobs for a youthful population.

This backdrop has meant many companies in the Kingdom were already changing the way they did business before the arrival of the pandemic and the collapse of oil prices created new challenges.

Last year’s annual Global Competitiveness Report, issued by the World Economic Forum, placed the Kingdom third among G20 counties and 11th globally

in terms of IT governance which rates a country’s ability to adapt digital technologies such as e-commerce and financial technology.

Such technology skills are becoming increasingly important for economies as they to re-calibrate and adapt to the post-pandemic world.

Nasser Al-Qarawee, the director of the Saudi Study and Research Center, attributed the success of some Saudi companies to the great achievements made by the private sector lately and predicted that more Saudi companies would eventually join Aramco on the Forbes list.

“The national economy has seen enormous improvements and development in terms of laws and legislation that have helped reduce restrictions and bureaucracy, while the government has worked at the same time on reducing dependency on oil. Vision 2030 will further cement the Kingdom’s strong presence globally and make it have a larger influence on global decisions, not only economically but also politically.”

Tawfiq Al-Swailem, CEO of the Gulf Bureau for Research and Economic Consultations, said that many Saudi companies would emerge from the pandemic in a strong position.

“In terms of profits, the Saudi companies have done well, although the entire world is living through a state of ferocious economic war,” he said. “We will see more Saudi companies rising in the next few years.”