Ex-Nissan chair Ghosn indicted for alleged breach of trust

Galtero Lara
Enero 11, 2019

Ghosn denies any wrongdoing and argued in a dramatic first court appearance on Tuesday that he has been "wrongly accused and unfairly detained".

The third charge, for aggravated breach of trust, involves a complex alleged scheme under which Ghosn is said to have tried to transfer losses on foreign exchange contracts to Nissan's books.

Ghosn has remained in custody at the Tokyo Detention House since Tokyo prosecutors arrested him on November 19 along with close American aide Greg Kelly, who has been released on bail, for allegedly understating his remuneration in Nissan securities reports submitted to Japanese regulators during a five-year period through March 2015.

"We believe that there was enough to charge and go to trial", he said of Ghosn's case, "and he will be guilty".

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Motonari Otsuru, who leads Ghosn's legal team, said he expected prosecutors to take at least six months to prepare for trial.

A prosecutor's office spokeswoman said charges against Ghosn carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

The presiding judge explained that Ghosn continued to be detained because he presented a flight risk and there were concerns he could tamper with evidence.

"I believe strongly that in all of my efforts on behalf of the company, I have acted honorably, legally and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company - with the sole goal of supporting and strengthening Nissan, and helping to restore its place as one of Japan's finest and most respected companies".

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His lawyers nonetheless filed a bid to end his detention, but the request, and an appeal, were both rejected.

The arrest and detention of Ghosn, once among the most celebrated executives in Japan, has sparked worldwide criticism of Japan's justice system, which effectively allows suspects to be held indefinitely and questioned without a lawyer present.

French daily Le Figaro reported Thursday that the board meeting was one of several informal gatherings held regularly since Ghosn's arrest to discuss developments in the case.

He has reportedly complained about the rice-based diet at the detention centre, with his family saying he has lost up to 20 kilos (44 pounds).

This week he suffered a fever that prompted prosecutors to suspend their interrogations, though his lawyer said Friday that Ghosn's temperature had gone back down. Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa has denounced Ghosn, accusing him of using the company's money and assets for personal gain.

Nissan later said in a statement that it remained committed to the alliance that has strained ties between the two automakers.

It said it took the charges filed against the firm "extremely seriously" and was continuing its investigation into the case.

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