Ex-Nissan boss Ghosn: misconduct charges are 'meritless'

Ex-Nissan boss Ghosn: misconduct charges are 'meritless'

The hearing was Ghosn's first public appearance since his November 19 arrest. "I am wrongfully accused".

Or at least that's what he said on Monday in his first statement to the public since his arrest by Japanese authorities in 2018 in connection with charges of misreported income.

"A captain doesn't jump ship during a storm", he told the court in a strong voice.

He said he had an option to retire and use his retirement fund to restore his personal finances, harmed by volatile forex moves at the time.

Ghosn said four major companies tried to recruit him while he was Nissan CEO.

Presiding Judge Yuichi Tada read out the charges against Ghosn and said he was being detained because he was a flight risk and there was a possibility he would hide evidence. He was handcuffed and attached to a leash on his waist.

He then flatly denied the allegations against him, saying, "I have acted honorably, legally, and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company".

Mr Ghosn sought to highlight his loyalty to Nissan and he spoke of "a genuine love and appreciation" for the company. They requested anonymity because of the matters' confidentiality.

The contract was transferred back to the asset management firm with a Saudi acquaintance of Ghosn guaranteeing credit. Ghosn is also suspected of using a Nissan subsidiary to pay Saudi businessman Khaled Al-Juffali a total of $14.7 million from 2009 to 2012.

Mr Ghosn has been indicted on the allegations of under-reporting his income, but they are yet to undertake that procedure for the accusation of transferring trading losses.

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

According to his prepared statement, he denied that charge.

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"Contrary to the accusations made by the prosecutors, I never received any compensation from Nissan that was not disclosed, nor did I ever enter into any binding contract with Nissan to be paid a fixed amount that was not disclosed", Ghosn claimed.

Ghosn's treatment following his arrest has brought the Japanese criminal justice system under worldwide scrutiny and some practices such as effectively allowing suspects to be held for long periods without formally charging them as well as questioning them without lawyers present have sparked global criticism. He's a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry.

The case has rattled Nissan's alliance with French automaker Renault SA RENA.PA , where Ghosn still remains chairman and chief executive.

Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan, while Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault. His arrest has shaken the world's largest auto pact, amid speculation it was part of a coup by forces within Nissan aimed at staving off a merger of the carmakers.

Ten days later, the Tokyo District Court granted prosecutors' request to extend Ghosn's detention by 10 days until January 11.

In an indication of the interest the case has sparked in Japan, more than 1,000 people waited outside the court from the early hours in the hope of getting one of just 14 tickets for the public gallery. No media cameras or audio recordings are allowed in Japanese court sessions.

Ghosn has been held in Tokyo's Kosuge detention centre since November.

A towering figure in the auto industry, Ghosn is credited with turning around a struggling Nissan - also giving him a high profile rare for foreign executives in Japan. Kelly, who suffers from spinal stenosis, was later released on bail and is being treated at a hospital in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Tokyo prosecutors have repeatedly prolonged Ghosn's detention, adding on new allegations, with the latest being suspicion of breach of trust stemming from allegations that he had Nissan temporarily shoulder his personal investment losses.

A court rejected a further extension of that set - raising the possibility of Ghosn's release on bail - but in another twist, prosecutors slapped the tycoon with a third set of allegations, restarting the whole process.

Ghosn's detention now runs through Friday.

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