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Ghosn Indicted for Aggravated Breach of Trust

Ghosn Indicted for Aggravated Breach of Trust

Monday, 22 April, 2019 - 07:45
Former Nissan Motor Co Chairman Carlos Ghosn. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Former Nissan Motor Co Chairman Carlos Ghosn was indicted by Japanese prosecutors with aggravated breach of trust, said a Tokyo court Monday. This was the fourth formal indictment against the auto sector tycoon who immediately filed for bail.

The indictment was announced after authorities arrested him on April 4 for the fourth time, on suspicion he enriched himself by a total of $5 million at Nissan’s expense.

Ghosn, who faces three other charges including understating his income, strenuously denies all allegations against him and insists they have been cooked up in a "plot" by Nissan executives wary of his plans to bring the Japanese car giant closer to its French partner Renault.

Nissan on Monday said it had filed a criminal complaint against the former chairman, saying it had determined that some of its overseas payments had been ordered by Ghosn for his personal enrichment.

The payments were “not necessary from a business standpoint”, Nissan said in a statement, adding: “Such misconduct is completely unacceptable, and Nissan is requesting appropriately strict penalties.”

Prosecutors were due to hold a briefing and Ghosn’s lawyers were also due to speak to reporters on Monday.

Prosecutors had to indict or release Ghosn by Monday under the terms of his detention.

Before he was re-arrested this month, Ghosn had been out on $9 million bail for 30 days. He is now being held in the same Tokyo detention center where he was detained for 108 days following his dramatic initial arrest on the tarmac at a Tokyo airport in November.

The Kyodo news agency has previously reported that the losses involved the shifting of funds through a dealer in Oman to the account of a company Ghosn effectively owned. The agency did not cite any sources.

Sources have previously told Reuters that Nissan partner Renault SA has alerted French prosecutors after uncovering suspect payments to a partner in Oman.

Evidence sent to French prosecutors showed that much of the cash was subsequently channeled to a Lebanese company controlled by Ghosn associates, the sources said. Ghosn’s French lawyer has denied the allegations.

Ghosn has accused his former Nissan colleagues of “backstabbing” and conspiring to oust him as chairman of Nissan. He has described Nissan executives as selfish rivals bent on derailing a closer alliance between the Japanese automaker and its top shareholder, Renault.

The case has rocked the global auto industry and also shone a harsh light on Japan’s judicial system, which critics refer to as “hostage justice” as defendants who deny their charges are often not granted bail.

Under Japanese law, prosecutors are able to hold suspects for up to 22 days without charge and interrogate them without their lawyers present.

Monday was the end of the maximum period authorities had to question Ghosn, who is now technically in pre-trial detention.

The Ghosn case represents a precipitous downfall for an executive who has gone from a life of luxury and private jets as he ran three huge car companies to a small cell.

Nissan says an internal investigation uncovered "substantial evidence of blatantly unethical conduct" by the former chairman.

His lawyers in Paris have urged the French government to insist he be tried in France as a fair trial would "only be possible" there, according to them.

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