Ex-nis­san chief Ghosn in­dicted for breach of trust

The Gulf Today - Business - - FRONT PAGE -

TOKYO: Nis­san’s ex-chair­man Car­los Ghosn was charged on Fri­day with breach of trust, ac­cord­ing to the Tokyo Dis­trict Court, mak­ing the star ex­ec­u­tive’s re­lease un­likely for months to come.

Ghosn, ar­rested Nov. 19, was ear­lier charged with fal­si­fy­ing fi­nan­cial re­ports in un­der­re­port­ing his in­come by about 5 bil­lion yen ($44 mil­lion) over five years through 2015.

Ghosn; Greg Kelly, an­other Nis­san ex­ec­u­tive; and Nis­san as a le­gal en­tity also were charged Fri­day with ad­di­tional un­der­re­port­ing of in­come, from 2015 through mid-2018.

Ghosn’s lawyer Mo­tonari Oht­suru filed a re­quest that Ghosn be re­leased on bail. His de­ten­tion pe­riod for the breach of trust al­le­ga­tions would have ex­pired Fri­day if charges had not been filed.

Kelly and Nis­san were not charged with breach of trust. Those al­le­ga­tions cen­tre on Ghosn’s han­dling of in­vest­ment losses and pay­ments made to a Saudi busi­ness­man.

Ghosn, 64, says he’s in­no­cent. Sus­pects in Ja­pan are rou­tinely held for months un­til tri­als start, and Tokyo prose­cu­tors main­tain that Ghosn, a Brazil­ian-born French­man of Le­banese an­ces­try, is a flight risk.

Ear­lier this week Ghosn told a Tokyo court he was in­no­cent, in his first pub­lic ap­pear­ance since his ar­rest, and ap­pealed for his de­ten­tion to end. But the court re­jected that re­quest.

“I have a gen­uine love and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Nis­san,” Ghosn told the court. “In all of my ef­forts on be­half of the com­pany, I have acted hon­or­ably, legally and with the knowl­edge and ap­proval of the ap­pro­pri­ate ex­ec­u­tives in­side the com­pany.” He said the com­pen­sa­tion was never de­cided on, the in­vest­ment deal never re­sulted in any losses to Nis­san, and the pay­ments to the Saudi busi­ness­man were for le­git­i­mate ser­vices re­lated to deal­ers and in­vest­ments in the Gulf.

Ghosn re­mains CEO of Nis­san’s al­liance part­ner Re­nault, though he was dis­missed as chair­man of Nis­san and fel­low al­liance com­pany Mit­subishi Mo­tor Co.

Re­nault has stuck by Ghosn since his ar­rest but faces pres­sure to find a suc­ces­sor as his jail time drags on and ques­tions mount about ex­ec­u­tive pay­ment schemes used by the car­maker and re­lated com­pa­nies.

The Re­nault board of di­rec­tors held a spe­cial meet­ing Thurs­day night to dis­cuss in­ter­nal re­views of ex­ec­u­tive pay prompted by Ghosn’s ar­rest. It de­clared that no fraud was found in 2017-2018 but it is still ex­am­in­ing pre­vi­ous years. Its shares fell slightly Fri­day morn­ing after those an­nounce­ments.

Ghosn, who ap­peared much thin­ner than be­fore his ar­rest, came down with a fever the day after his court ap­pear­ance, but has since re­cov­ered, Oht­suru, the lawyer, said.

Car­los Ghosn ges­tures dur­ing an event in Paris.

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