Ghosn 'Faces New Under-Reporting Charge Worth $35mln'

Ghosn 'Faces New Under-Reporting Charge Worth $35mln'

Thursday, 6 December, 2018 - 09:15
In this April 20, 2018, file photo, then Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
Ousted Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn will face a further accusation of under-reporting his salary by about four billion yen ($35.5 million) over the last three years, Japanese media reported Wednesday.

Tokyo prosecutors plan to "rearrest" the business tycoon along with his right-hand man and former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly by Monday, according to major media including the Nikkei and the Mainichi newspapers.

If confirmed, the new allegation would come on top of an existing accusation that the pair conspired to understate Ghosn's pay by some five billion yen in official filings during the five years up to March 2015.

Japanese prosecutors declined to comment on the reports regarding the duo, who were arrested on November 19 and remain in custody.

In Japan, a suspect can be kept in custody and "rearrested" several times on different allegations, a system that has sparked some criticism in the international media.

They have yet to be officially charged with any crime and deny the allegations, reportedly insisting they had checked with authorities about the way they declared the money.

In a move that stunned the business world, Ghosn was arrested at a Tokyo airport on November 19 on suspicion of under-declaring his income.

Authorities then had 22 days to question him over these suspicions. That period runs out on Monday, meaning they are likely to rearrest him over the new allegations, giving them a further 22 days to interrogate the tycoon.

He is therefore likely to remain in detention until early next year at least.

Brazilian consul general Joao de Mendonca Lima Neto, one of the few visitors Ghosn has been allowed to see under Japan's stringent rules, said Ghosn was healthy and holding up well.

"My impression is that he is a strong man in the sense that he will fight this out properly. He doesn't look worried," Mendonca told The Associated Press on Wednesday at Brazil's consulate in Tokyo. "I admire him for his fortitude."

Mendonca declined to comment on the specifics of the allegations against Ghosn, saying his job was about helping Brazilian citizens with their problems.

He said he has conveyed Ghosn's verbal messages to his family and has relayed the family's messages back.

Born in Brazil, Ghosn holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenships. Only representatives of a suspect's home country and attorneys can visit suspects in detention in Japan.

Consular officials have visited Ghosn four times in the last two weeks, Mendonca said. They brought history and philosophy books and fruit, but Ghosn asked for thriller books to pass the time.

Mendonca said he speaks with Ghosn in Portuguese through a glass barrier.

Japan had long celebrated Ghosn as a charismatic business leader who saved Nissan from the brink of failure and rebuilt it as a money-making subsidiary of Renault.

But since his unexpected arrest, he has been removed from the boards of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors -- the third company in the alliance that outsold all its rivals last year.

Nissan has begun a process of choosing Ghosn's successor, with the final decision expected on December 17.

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