Ex-nissan chief Ghosn indicted for breach of trust
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.