Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Nissan re-commits to Mitsubishi, makes corporate adjustments post-Ghosn

An artists sketch of Carlos Ghosn during his court appearance on Tuesday Ghosn suffers high fever, interrogation suspended
Priscilla Morrison | 11 January, 2019, 23:54

Tokyo prosecutors have indicated former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn on two new charges of financial misconduct. Lawyers said Thursday the executive had developed a fever, which has subsided since.

Ghosn has remained in custody at the Tokyo Detention House since Tokyo prosecutors arrested him on November 19 along with close American aide Greg Kelly, who has been released on bail, for allegedly understating his remuneration in Nissan securities reports submitted to Japanese regulators during a five-year period through March 2015.

A prosecutor's office spokeswoman said charges against Ghosn carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

"I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations", Ghosn told the court in a calm controlled voice.

Otsuru said his team was applying for bail to have Ghosn released.

Japan's prosecutors have faced criticism for a lack of clarity and communication on how they are handling the case, with Ghosn held in detention without charge for longer than would be permitted in the United Kingdom for a suspected terrorist.

If proven, each of Ghosn's alleged offense may carry a sentence of as much as 10 years, prosecutors have said.

It also alleges that he used company funds to repay a Saudi acquaintance who put up collateral for the contracts.

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The court hearing was requested by Ghosn's lawyers to explain the reasons for his prolonged detention. For example, his retirement payments were reviewed by legal experts inside Nissan as well as independent lawyers, and showed no intention of breaking the law.

From the start of the meeting, it has been reiterated that the Board remains steadfast to their alliance partnership with Mitsubishi and Renault as well.

Even if bail were granted, Ghosn would not likely be released until Tuesday given that Monday is public holiday.

In a career spanning decades, during which he won praise for turning around a struggling Nissan, he said he had "always acted with integrity" and had never before been accused of any wrongdoing. Nissan has dismissed Kelly from his role as a representative director. His arrest came after a months-long investigation by Nissan into his conduct, a probe that was largely kept from its French partner.

Its aim was to create synergy between the two automakers.

One Nissan insider called the sidelining of Munoz and Bajaj a "purge" of Ghosn-era executives. Renault, which is the biggest shareholder in Nissan, has refrained from removing Ghosn, instead appointing interim replacements.

Ghosn, 64, says he's innocent.

The boards of Nissan and its French 43.4 percent owner, Renault SA, met on Thursday for an update on the Ghosn investigations, with Nissan later saying in a statement it remained committed to the alliance that has strained ties between the two automakers.

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