Ghosn accuses Nissan executives of 'backstabbing' over arrest in video

UPDATE: Ghosn's French lawyer says he should be tried in France after former Nissan head recorded video before he was rearrested last week

The French government should insist on trying Carlos Ghosn in France on charges of financial misconduct at Nissan, to ensure the former chairman of the Japanese manufacturer gets a "fair trial", his French lawyer said on Tuesday.

"The French legal code states that when a crime is committed, or supposedly committed, by a citizen overseas, France's legal system is competent for judging him," Jean-Yves Le Borgne told BFM television, Agence France-Presse reported.

"I believe that if we want Carlos Ghosn to benefit from a trial carried out in respectable conditions, in line with our values, it would only be possible in France," he added.

Mr Le Borgne said that French President Emmanuel Macron was the "key figure" who could act on Mr Ghosn's behalf.

"He's the one who, if not personally, could intervene if he wanted to, if he deemed it appropriate, to get things moving," he said.

"But I have the feeling, I won't hide it, that they fear a rift, a separation, an anger forming between France and Japan, at least on industrial terms between Renault and Nissan," Mr Le Borgne said.

"And this being the case, to calm things down, they're going to let Nissan return to Japanese control, without doing very much to help Carlos Ghosn."

Earlier in the day, Mr Ghosn said he was innocent of all the charges against him and was the victim of a conspiracy, in a video recorded before his arrest last week and broadcast by his lawyers.

Mr Ghosn did not name any individuals in the video, and his main lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, said those references had been edited out. Mr Hironaka screened the video for reporters in Tokyo.

Mr Ghosn also said in the video that his love for the company and Japan were unchanged, but spoke of a "conspiracy" against him and said events had been "twisted in a way to paint a personage of greed, a personage of dictatorship".

"This is about a plot, this is about conspiracy, this is about backstabbing," he said, according to Reuters.

Mr Ghosn was rearrested by prosecutors last week while out on bail in Tokyo after new allegations surfaced triggering a fresh investigation.

A court has extended his detention until April 14, when prosecutors can apply to hold him for an additional 10 days before they must release him unless they bring charges or file new allegations.

Prosecutors said Mr Ghosn had been detained over transfers of Nissan funds totalling $15 million (Dh55.1m) between late 2015 and the middle of 2018 to a dealership in Oman.

They suspect around $5m of these funds were funneled to Mr Ghosn for personal use and he went on to buy a luxury yacht and finance personal investments.

Prosecutors accuse Mr Ghosn of having "betrayed" his duty "in order to benefit himself".

Mr Ghosn already faces three formal charges: two of deferring his salary and concealing that in official shareholders' documents, and a further charge of seeking to shift investment losses to the company.

After his November arrest, he spent 108 days in a detention centre in Tokyo before being released on bail of around $9m on March 6, emerging from incarceration dressed in a workman's uniform and face mask in an apparent bid to avoid the media. Mr Ghosn then lived in a court-appointed apartment in Tokyo.

There has been huge international and Japanese media interest in his case that has shocked and surprised many from the beginning, the AFP reported.

However, just as reports began to surface that he could be rearrested, Mr Ghosn emerged on Twitter to announce plans to hold a news conference on April 11.

His rearrest came few days after news that Renault, which Mr Ghosn once headed, had handed French prosecutors documents showing suspicious transfers worth million of euros authorised by the car tycoon.

Shortly after his arrest, his wife Carole – who had been living in Tokyo with Mr Ghosn while he was on bail – left Japan.

She told a French newspaper she had been forced to flee Tokyo with support from the French ambassador and was able to use her US passport after having to surrender her Lebanese one to prosecutors.

On Monday, Mrs Ghosn said she planned to return to Japan soon.

Asked if she would submit to questioning by Japanese prosecutors, Mrs Ghosn told RTL radio, "Of course I'll go."

"The idea of his being all alone is really hard to accept," she said.

Nissan severed its two-decade connection to former saviour Mr Ghosn as shareholders removed the former chairman and chief executive from its board earlier this week, following his arrest on numerous alleged financial crimes.

Mr Ghosn was voted out as director and is being replaced by Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, who joins Nissan’s board as vice chairman. Investors approved the change at an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo on Monday that Nissan agreed to hold at the request of largest owner Renault.

Updated: April 9, 2019 02:11 PM


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