Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Ghosn hit with more charges, release unlikely

Ghosn hit with more charges, release unlikely

After spending more than a month in a prison room in Tokyo, Carlos Ghosn has developed a fever, prompting the Japanese authorities to stop interrogating the former Nissan Motor Co chairman.

The 64-year-old was charged with aggravated breach of trust in relation to the alleged transfer of private investment losses to Nissan amid the 2008 global financial crisis, and for understating his remuneration in the three fiscal years through March last year.

"I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations", the once-revered vehicle titan told the court.

"We believe that there was enough to charge and go to trial", he said of Ghosn's case, "and he will be guilty".

Ghosn's lawyer said earlier this week that his client would likely be held until the trial which could begin in about six months.

A member of Ghosn's Japan-based legal team told Reuters that they would apply for bail after Ghosn's current detention period ends on Friday, but that his release would come next Tuesday at the earliest, should the court accept the application.

The Tokyo District Court has rejected a request by Ghosn's lawyers to end his detention following his November 19 arrest on accusations of financial misconduct, Jiji Press reported on Wednesday.

He was already facing a first charge for allegedly under-reporting his compensation over five years to the tune of five billion yen (R644m) in official documents to shareholders.

According to reports, Ghosn was led into the court in handcuffs and with a rope around his waist, and appeared notably thinner than previously. The judge, Yuichi Tada, said it was because he was considered a flight risk, and the possibility of concealing evidence.

He spoke in a strong voice and said he had acted "honourably, legally and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company".

A request filed the same day by his lawyers to end his detention was rejected.

Ghosn's prolonged detention has put the spotlight on Japan's justice system, which has come in for some worldwide criticism.

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.

The jet-setting high-flyer who once sparked criticism for his lavish lifestyle has gone from spacious digs in global capitals to a one-man cell.

Renault's board said an independent review had looked into the compensation of the group's executive committee during the financial years 2017 and 2018 "and has concluded that it is both in compliance with applicable laws and free from any fraud". Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa has denounced Ghosn, accusing him of using the company's money and assets for personal gain.

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

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