Wednesday, 19 June, 2019

Carlos Ghosn makes his first court appearance since arrest

A court sketch shows ousted Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn during an open hearing at Tokyo District Court in Tokyo on Jan 8 2019 Handcuffed and roped up, Carlos Ghosn will address court in person on Tuesday
Rhonda Young | 08 January, 2019, 13:47

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn said he had been "wrongly accused and unfairly detained" at a high-profile court hearing in Japan on Tuesday, his first appearance since his arrest in November rocked the business world.

He told the court: "I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations".

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

Ghosn, appearing in a dark suit without a tie and wearing plastic slippers and looking thinner than he had before his arrest, denied any wrongdoing.

The Tokyo District Court said 1,122 people lined up to draw lots for the 14 courtroom seats allotted to the public.

During Tuesday's hearing, Go Kondo, one of Ghosn's lawyers, argued he was not a flight risk.

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Presiding Judge Yuichi Tada said the detention was due to flight risk and possibility he could hide evidence.

Ghosn's Japanese lawyers have also scheduled a press conference for Tuesday afternoon, where they are expected to speak in his defence for the first time since the arrest.

The 64-year-old has been formally charged with under-reporting his income by about 5 billion yen (£34m) over five years from 2010 to 2015.

Regarding allegations that he transferred losses to Nissan, Ghosn said he had asked the company to temporarily take on collateral for his foreign exchange contracts.

He said the bank demanded increased collateral on the contracts after the financial crisis, which he was unable to secure unless he resigned from Nissan and received his retirement allowance. "Even though their proposals were very attractive, I could not in good conscience abandon Nissan while we were in the midst of our turnaround", he said. "A captain doesn't jump ship in the middle of a storm".

He has also been arrested, but not yet indicted, on allegations of aggravated breach of trust in shifting personal investment losses worth $17 million to the carmaker.

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He said Juffali´s company "was appropriately compensated - an amount disclosed to and approved by the appropriate officers at Nissan" in return for "critical services" he provided the firm.

He also said payments questioned by prosecutors and by Nissan that were made to Khaled Juffali, a Saudi businessman, were for real work he did to sort out problems with a local distributor.

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn could be in jail for another six months, his lawyer says. He had been pushing for a deeper tie-up between the two companies and at the urging of the French government had floated the possibility of a full merger, despite strong reservations at Nissan.

His lengthy stay in a tiny, freezing cell at the Tokyo detention centre has drawn worldwide criticism of Japan's "hostage justice", which allows prosecutors to re-arrest suspects several times over different allegations and to question them for up to eight hours a day without a lawyer present.

Ghosn, who was arrested first on November 19, has been re-arrested twice on different charges since then, a tactic often used by Japanese prosecutors to keep suspects in detention.

Tokyo prosecutors have repeatedly extended Ghosn's detention by adding new allegations.

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