Published: Fri, April 05, 2019
Markets | By Erika Turner

Nissan's Ghosn arrested again in financial misconduct case

Nissan's Ghosn arrested again in financial misconduct case

Tokyo prosecutors confiscated the passport and mobile phone of Carlos Ghosn's wife, Carole, when they arrested the former Nissan boss on Thursday morning, his lawyer said, adding that the defence team would "strongly appeal" the latest arrest.

Carlos Ghosn has been put back under arrest over allegations he misused company funds, prompting the former Nissan chairman to angrily denounce his detention as "outrageous and arbitrary".

"Ordinarily, all they would have to do is file another indictment (rather than re-arrest him), so I have no idea why they had to detain him", Junichiro Hironaka, the lead defense lawyer, told reporters in front of his Tokyo office.

"I am innocent", Ghosn said in an interview aired on Thursday with French TV stations TF1 and LCI.

"After being wrongly imprisoned for 108 days, my biggest hope and wish today is for a fair trial", Ghosn said in his statement.

Nissan said it could not comment on judicial decisions or processes.

Tokyo district prosecutors were discussing the case with more senior colleagues before deciding whether to move ahead, Japanese media said. A condition for his release on bail included not using the internet, but it is unclear if the authorities are considering the tweet a technical violation.

The rearrest was "extremely inappropriate" and created to put pressure on his client, the attorney said, adding that prosecutors will probably seek to detain him longer.

The arrest comes a day after the former chairman of Nissan, Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp announced he would hold a tell-all press conference next week.

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Ghosn and his lawyer protested against this latest arrest, saying it was arbitrary and unfair.

Between 2015 and 2018 Ghosn sent out payments to an overseas dealer on self-interest and caused loss to Nissan. On the Oman allegations, Ghosn's representatives said: "The payments made by Renault to the distributor in Oman have not been diverted from their commercial objectives and under no circumstances has all or part of such payments benefited Carlos Ghosn or his family".

According to a source familiar with the matter, some of this money is believed to have been used to buy a luxury boat for Ghosn and his family. He was arrested twice in December on other charges, including transferring $16 million of his personal investment losses to the Japanese carmaker.

In a bolt from the blue that rocked Japan and the business world, Ghosn was arrested on November 19 after prosecutors stormed his private jet at a Tokyo airport and took him into custody.

Early on Thursday, Mr Ghosn was subjected to a fourth arrest, this time on fresh charges of breach of trust at Nissan in what media reports linked to payments to an Omani vehicle dealer.

However, Ghosn's high personal pay has been very unusual for a Japanese company official.

"I am determined that the truth will come out".

A Nissan spokesperson said the firm's internal probe had uncovered "substantial evidence of blatantly unethical conduct" and that their focus was on "addressing weaknesses in governance that enabled this misconduct". "I am confident that if tried fairly, I will be vindicated", he said.

The new arrest warrant, served for an allegation of aggravated breach of trust over a payment made to a distributor in Oman, marks another turn for the once-feted auto tycoon, who was preparing to defend his innocence at trial. Ghosn denies any wrongdoing and has accused Nissan's board of orchestrating a coup against him.

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