Thursday 20 June 2019

'Wrongly accused' Ghosn in first public appearance

In the dock: Looking thinner after his detention, Carlos Ghosn laid out a detailed defence against charges he failed to disclose income
In the dock: Looking thinner after his detention, Carlos Ghosn laid out a detailed defence against charges he failed to disclose income
Motonari Otsuru, chief lawyer for Carlos Ghosn

Kae Inoue and Lisa Du

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has rejected prosecutors' claims of financial wrongdoing and pledged his loyalty to the firm he led for more than a decade, as he faces an extended detention following his shock arrest in Japan almost two months ago.

"I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations," said the fallen car titan, who arrived gaunt, handcuffed and with a rope around his waist in a Tokyo courtroom as he made his first public appearance since he was detained on November 19.

His lawyers said they plan to appeal against his incarceration and will apply for bail if he is indicted on January 11, the end of the current detention period.

Looking thinner and with sunken cheeks, the dark-suited Ghosn laid out in detail his defence against charges he failed to disclose income from Nissan and passed on trading losses to the carmaker.

He told the court that contrary to accusations made by prosecutors, he got no compensation from Nissan that wasn't disclosed.

He has been indicted in Japan for under-reporting his compensation. The hearing was requested by his lawyers, seeking an explanation for why he has been detained for so long.

His defence team, led by lawyer Motonari Otsuru, says he faces not getting bail until a trial begins, which might take six months, meaning he would spend far longer in detention than the 50 days he's already been locked away.

"I have acted honourably, legally and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company," he said. "Your honour, I am innocent of the accusations against me."

Once feted as Nissan's saviour, the jet-setting manager, who once came to symbolise the Davos Man, appeared to have lost significant weight and his hair was graying at the roots. His business shoes had been replaced by plastic slippers.

Judge Yuichi Tada said that, as someone with multiple bases overseas, he is being held because there's a risk he'll leave the country and tamper with evidence.

Mr Ghosn sought to highlight his loyalty and spoke of "a genuine love and appreciation" for Nissan. Nissan previously said it uncovered substantial and convincing evidence of misconduct and the board unanimously voted to oust Mr Ghosn. Nissan said: "Our investigation is ongoing, and its scope continues to broaden."

While he was dismissed as Nissan chairman shortly after his detention, Renault has kept him on as chairman and CEO because it needs evidence of wrongdoing.

Bloomberg

Irish Independent

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