Ghosn indicted on 2 new charges of financial misconduct

Daniel Fowler
January 12, 2019

Ghosn has been locked up in a small Tokyo jail cell with a toilet and wash basin since his shock arrest Nov 19.

Nissan said Friday it has filed its own criminal complaint against its former chief "on the basis of Ghosn's misuse of a significant amount of the company's funds".

But afterwards Ghosn's lawyer said it would be "very difficult" to win bail and it could be months before his case is heard.

With each allegation against Ghosn, prosecutors can seek up to 22 days of detention to investigate the claims - the period for the aggravated breach of trust allegation expired on Friday.

The prosecutors, meanwhile, believe Ghosn committed aggravated breach of trust the moment he transferred the contract to Nissan. Those allegations center on Ghosn's handling of investment losses and payments made to a Saudi businessman.

Renault's most powerful shareholder, the French state, says Ghosn is presumed innocent until proven guilty and has demanded Nissan share the evidence it's collated against him. His hearing at a court in Tokyo on Tuesday was his first public appearance since then. But the court rejected that request.

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".

French daily Le Figaro reported Thursday that the board meeting was one of several informal gatherings held regularly since Ghosn's arrest to discuss developments in the case. Its shares fell slightly Friday morning after those announcements.

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"I am pleading with the Japanese authorities to provide us with any information at all about my husband's health".

Ghosn holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian passports and his children live in the U.S., his wife said that her husband is living in "harsh conditions" and enduring "unfair treatment", and that authorities have not let the family speak with medical personnel at the detention center. Such visits were canceled Thursday but resumed Friday.

It said it took the charges filed against the firm "extremely seriously" and was continuing its investigation into the case.

The maximum penalty for the falsifying financial reports and breach of trust is 15 years in prison, a 10 million yen ($89,000) fine, or both.

The charges add to an earlier charge of under-reporting his income by around half over the five years through March 2015.

As chairman of Nissan, Renault SA (RENA.PA) and Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T), the globe-trotting Ghosn had access to a string of residences around the world, including additional homes in Beirut and Rio de Janeiro.

His arrest came after a months-long investigation by Nissan into his conduct, a probe that was largely kept from its French partner. Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa has denounced Ghosn, accusing him of using the company's money and assets for personal gain. It reiterated harsh words against Ghosn. "Nissan does not in any way tolerate such misconduct and calls for strict penalties", it said.

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