Ghosn delays suit seeking retirement pay from Renault

In this file photo taken on January 08, 2020 shows former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn gesturing as he addresses a large crowd of journalists on his reasons for dodging trial in Japan, where he is accused of financial misconduct, at the Lebanese Press Syndicate in Beirut. (AFP / JOSEPH EID)
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Updated 22 February 2020

Ghosn delays suit seeking retirement pay from Renault

  • Renault refuses to pay, saying the former CEO was forced to quit after his shock November 2018 arrest in Japan on charges of financial misconduct
  • Facing multiple charges of corruption in Japan as chairman of Nissan, Ghosn fled to his native Lebanon last year

PARIS: Lawyers for Carlos Ghosn on Friday delayed a lawsuit seeking a hefty retirement payout from his former employer Renault, saying the French carmaker had not given them enough time to prepare arguments.

The court in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Renault’s headquarters outside Paris, granted the request for more time, setting a new hearing date for April 17.

“We received Renault’s arguments only on Monday, and having just four days to respond to 20 pages of arguments is clearly not enough,” Ghosn’s lawyer Laetitia Ternisien told reporters.

Ghosn is seeking a $270,000 retirement payout, which Renault refuses to pay because it says the former CEO was forced to quit after his shock November 2018 arrest in Japan on charges of financial misconduct.

The former industry titan claims he retired in due form on his own accord.

He also seeks a much bigger prize — a supplementary pension of €774,774 per year for the rest of his life, as well as 380,000 shares granted for reaching performance targets. At current prices, that stock grant would be worth over €12 million.

Meanwhile, Ghosn also faces a French inquiry over two parties he threw at the Palace of Versailles, including his opulent 2016 wedding, allegedly financed in part by Renault funds.

He is also being investigated by France’s tax fraud office over suspicious financial transactions between Renault and its distributor in the Gulf state of Oman, and over contracts signed by Renault and Nissan’s Dutch subsidiary RNBV.

In Japan, he still faces multiple charges claiming he under-reported millions of dollars in salary as chairman of Nissan.

He has denied all the charges, but fled to his native Lebanon late last year before he could face trial.

 


Tanker off UAE sought by US over Iran sanctions ‘hijacked’

Updated 16 July 2020

Tanker off UAE sought by US over Iran sanctions ‘hijacked’

  • The circumstances of the hijack are still unclear and the boat has been tracked to Iranian waters

DUBAI: An oil tanker sought by the US over allegedly circumventing sanctions on Iran was hijacked on July 5 off the coast of the UAE, a seafarers organization said Wednesday.

Satellite photos showed the vessel in Iranian waters on Tuesday and two of its sailors remained in the Iranian capital.

It wasn’t immediately clear what happened aboard the Dominica-flagged MT Gulf Sky, though its reported hijacking comes after months of tensions between Iran and the US

David Hammond, the CEO of the United Kingdom-based group Human Rights at Sea, said he took a witness statement from the captain of the MT Gulf Sky, confirming the ship had been hijacked.

Hammond said that 26 of the Indian sailors on board had made it back to India, while two remained in Tehran, without elaborating.

“We are delighted to hear that the crew are safe and well, which has been our fundamental concern from the outset,” Hammond told The Associated Press.

Hammond said that he had no other details about the vessel.

TankerTrackers.com, a website tracking the oil trade at sea, said it saw the vessel in satellite photos on Tuesday in Iranian waters off Hormuz Island. 

Hormuz Island, near the port city of Bandar Abbas, is some 190 kilometers (120 miles) north of Khorfakkan, a city on the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates where the vessel had been for months.

The Emirati government, the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet did not respond to requests for comment. Iranian state media did not immediately report on the vessel and Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In May, the US Justice Department filed criminal charges against two Iranians, accusing them of trying to launder some $12 million to purchase the tanker, at that time named the MT Nautica, through a series of front companies. 

The vessel then took on Iranian oil from Kharg Island to sell abroad, the US government said.

Court documents allege the scheme involved the Quds Force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which is its elite expeditionary unit, as well as Iran’s national oil and tanker companies. The two men charged, one of whom also has an Iraqi passport, remain at large.

“Because a US bank froze the funds related to the sale of the vessel, the seller never received payment,” the Justice Department said. “As a result, the seller instituted a civil action in the UAE to recover the vessel.”

That civil action was believed to be still pending, raising questions of how the tanker sailed away from the Emirates after being seized by authorities there.

Data from the MT Gulf Sky’s Automatic Identification System tracker shows it had been turned off around 4:30 a.m. on July 5, according to ship-tracking website MarineTraffic.com. Ships are supposed to keep their AIS trackers on, but Iranian vessels routinely turn theirs off to mask their movements.

Meanwhile, the 28 Indian sailors on board the vessel found themselves stuck on board without pay for months, according to the International Labor Organization. It filed a report saying the vessel and its sailors had been abandoned by its owners since March off Khorfakkan. The ILO did not respond to a request for comment.

As tensions between Iran and the US heated up last year, tankers plying the waters of the Mideast became targets, particularly near the crucial Strait of Hormuz, the Arabian Gulf’s narrow mouth through which 20 percent of all oil passes. Suspected limpet mine attacks the US blamed on Iran targeted several tankers. Iran denied being involved, though it did seize several tankers.