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Ex-Nissan Chief Ghosn Denies Allegations, Says Paid Properly

Ex-Nissan Chief Ghosn Denies Allegations, Says Paid Properly

Sunday, 25 November, 2018 - 06:45
Asharq Al-Awsat
Nissan's former chairman Carlos Ghosn has denied allegations of financial misconduct, claiming he had no intention of making false reports, Japanese media said Sunday.

The Brazil-born tycoon, who has not spoken publicly since he was arrested last Monday, told prosecutors he did not intend to understate his income on financial reports, public broadcaster NHK said.

Without exercising his right to remain silent, Ghosn advocated his view to prosecutors, NHK said, quoting unnamed sources.

Ghosn was sacked as Nissan chairman Thursday, a spectacular fall from grace for the once-revered boss whose arrest and ouster have stunned the business world.

Prosecutors accuse Ghosn and fellow executive Greg Kelly of under-reporting the former chairman's income by around five billion yen ($44 million).

Kelly also denied the allegations, saying Ghosn's salaries were paid appropriately, news reports said.

Local media reported that Nissan had formed a "secret" team earlier this year to probe the alleged financial misconduct.

A small team involving Nissan's board members carried out its internal probe confidentially on concerns about possible destruction of evidence by Ghosn, Japan's Kyodo News reported, quoting unnamed sources.

The company speeded up the probe to oust Ghosn swiftly as Nissan officials were increasingly worried about his plan to review the Renault-Nissan capital tie-up, it said.

Ghosn reportedly planned their full-fledged merger although Nissan officials opposed the move due to concerns over Renault's level of control despite the Japanese company becoming the dominant player in the alliance.

Ghosn is being held custody in a Tokyo detention center.

On Wednesday, prosecutors successfully applied to extend his custody for an additional 10 days as they stepped up their questioning.

Separately, Nissan is considering filing a civil damages suit against Ghosn over his expenses, Kyodo said.

The Yokohama-based company plans to sue him if controversial expenses such as costs of providing luxury residences to him in Lebanon are confirmed improper, it said.

Ghosn's ouster is an astonishing turnaround for a titan of the auto sector who revived the Japanese brand and forged an alliance with France's Renault as well as domestic rival Mitsubishi Motors.

Top executives of the three companies plan to hold a meeting this week, their first gathering since his arrest, local media said.

The three parties will attend mid-week operations committee meetings in Amsterdam that had been planned before Ghosn’s Nov. 19 detention in Japan, the companies confirmed.

“There is no change in our alliance relationship,” a Mitsubishi spokesman said.

While Nissan and 43.4 percent-owner Renault have vowed to safeguard the partnership, the Japanese carmaker’s Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa also made clear he wants to end its French parent’s control of the alliance, as he moved swiftly to oust Ghosn as chairman.

Renault has refrained from dismissing Ghosn as chairman and CEO, while demanding that Nissan share findings from the months-long internal investigation that led to his arrest. Ghosn’s duties have been delegated to second-in-command Thierry Bollore and board director Philippe Lagayette.

The Amsterdam meeting is likely to see Bollore and Saikawa meet face-to-face for the first time since Ghosn’s arrest, sources close to the companies said.

“These are purely operational sessions,” a Renault official said.

All three carmakers have stressed that operations and alliance business are proceeding as normal. Nissan, however, called off the launch of a high-performance Leaf electric car, cancelling Nov. 28 events in Yokohama and Amsterdam.

A Nissan spokesman gave no reason for the postponement and said the company had yet to set a new date for the announcement.

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