INTERNATIONAL

Ghosn awaits fate but release unlikely

 

 

Tokyo

Carlos Ghosn will learn his fate Friday when the maximum detention period for questioning over financial misconduct allegations expires but the former Nissan chairman is unlikely to be released soon.

Prosecutors are expected to press formal charges against the 64-year-old auto industry tycoon over allegations of under-declaring his income and aggravated breach of trust, meaning Ghosn will likely stay in pre-trial detention.

Ghosn, who is reportedly suffering from a fever at his Tokyo detention centre, denies any wrongdoing, arguing in a dramatic court appearance on Tuesday that he is being “wrongly accused and unfairly detained”.

One of the most recognisable foreign executives in Japan, Ghosn was led into Tokyo District Court in handcuffs and with a rope around his waist and was noticeably thinner after more than 50 days of prison food.

He spoke in a strong voice and passionately declared a “genuine love and appreciation for Nissan”, saying he had acted “honourably, legally and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company”.

At the end of the nearly two-hour hearing, his lawyers applied for him to be freed but the court slapped this down, arguing he was a flight risk and could tamper with evidence if released.

An appeal to end his detention was also rejected.

Ghosn has already been indicted once, over allegations he under-reported his salary over five fiscal years to the tune of five billion yen (USD 46 million) in official documents to shareholders.

Prosecutors are expected to add a formal charge that he continued this practice for the next three years, hiding away four billion yen.

In addition, they are likely to hit Ghosn with a further charge of aggravated breach of trust, alleging he sought to transfer 1.85 billion yen in losses from a foreign exchange contract from his personal asset management firm to Nissan.

It has not been ruled out that prosecutors could also re-arrest the executive over as-yet unknown accusations, allowing authorities another 22 days of questioning.

Ghosn had forged an unlikely three-way alliance between Mitsubishi Motors, Renault and Nissan.

The board of French automaker Renault — of which Ghosn remains CEO — said late Thursday an ongoing audit into executive pay had found no sign of fraud in the last two years. (PTI)

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