By on January 8, 2019

Ghosn, with the help of his team of lawyers, earned the right to speak in a packed Tokyo courtroom on Tuesday, and he used his time efficiently.

Described as looking gaunt, the jailed Renault CEO and ex-Nissan chairman claimed he was “wrongly accused” at the Tokyo district court hearing, adding that there’s nothing improper about the way he managed his finances.

It was the first time Ghosn has spoken publicly  — not through lawyers —  since his Nov. 19. Apparently, the impact of 50 days of detention was clear for all to see. On the weekend, Ghosn’s son, Anthony, told French media that his father subsisted on three bowls of rice a day and has shed 22 pounds.

Two re-arrests, one prompted by an indictment for underreported income and another sparked by an accusation of offloading personal investment losses to Nissan, have kept Ghosn from seeking bail. His lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, told the BBC that the exec could be held for another six months.

“In general, in such cases in Japan, [bail] is usually not approved before the first trial takes place.”

Speaking to the courtroom, Ghosn said, “I have always acted with integrity and have never been accused of any wrongdoing in my several-decade professional career. I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations.”

He added, “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.”

According to Nissan, a whistleblower’s tip sparked an investigation that led to the arrest of Ghosn and his top lieutenant, Greg Kelly. Nissan’s board later voted to sack Ghosn from his chairman role and Kelly from his board post.

The BBC detailed Ghosn’s response to the breach of trust allegations:

The 64-year-old executive is accused of moving personal investment losses worth 1.85bn yen (£13.3m; $17m) racked up on foreign exchange dealings to Nissan.

Mr Ghosn says he did ask the company to take on collateral temporarily for his foreign exchange contracts, but that it did not lose any money through this move.

He said if he had not been able to do this, he would have had to resign and use his retirement allowance as collateral instead.

Mr Ghosn is also accused of making $14.7m in payments to Saudi businessman Khaled al-Juffali, using Nissan funds in exchange for arranging a letter of credit to help with his investment losses.

Ghosn faces 10 years in prison if found guilty in the eventual trial. The exec did plenty of talking Tuesday, and a full transcript of his remarks can be found here. Ghosn listed a rundown of his accomplishments as creator and head of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, calling his achievements “the greatest joy of my life, next to my family.”

After finishing his statement, Ghosn, handcuffed and tied to a rope, was led back to his cell.

[Sources: The Guardian, Reuters] [Image: Nissan]

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17 Comments on “Ghosn Professes Innocence in Court Hearing...”

  • avatar

    How did he think any of this stuff was legal, unless it’s specifically allowed in his employment contract with Nissan? It doesn’t sound good at all.

    Also, three bowls of rice per day? Remind me never to never get arrested in Japan. Sounds like “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence”.

    • 0 avatar

      How did he think any of this stuff was legal,

      There is a scene in the show Silicon Valley where something happens and the CEO of Hooli turns to one of his aides and says. “I haven’t surrounded myself with sycophants who just tell me what I want to hear, have I?” To which the aid replies, “Oh no, sir! Certainly not!”

      In Ghosn’s case, most likely the internal and external lawyers knew to keep their jobs in the short run, they had to tell the big boss what he wanted to hear.

  • avatar

    Also, that picture could launch a thousand memes.

  • avatar

    “nor did I ever enter into any binding contract ”

    And then this:

    “I understood that any draft proposals for post-retirement compensation were reviewed by internal and external lawyers, showing I had no intent to violate the law. For me, the test is the “death test”: if I died today, could my heirs require Nissan to pay anything other than my retirement allowance? The answer is an unequivocal “No.”

    Andrew Fastow the former CFO of Enron is out of jail and is giving talks to various groups, MBA students, insurance underwriters etc. He tells the story of explaining to his son why he was going to jail even though the lawyers etc had signed off. He said it’s like if you borrowed the car and the only rule was no drinking. Then at the party someone said, “I have the solution! A beer tablet! You don’t drink it. No drinking. How can you get into trouble?”

    And Andrew’s case it was a little more complicated in that he was paying the lawyers and accountants upwards of $2 million a month to tell him what he wanted to hear.

    • 0 avatar

      He notated what he believed his compensation should be, if he were paid at industry standards. There was no contract for him to get paid that amount. But, he is in trouble for notating what he *should* have been paid, in hopes of getting that in the future. Comparing Nissan under Ghosn’s tenure to Enron is crazy, but crazy pretty much sums up this mess. The Wall Street Journal has an editorial that is just as harsh in criticizing the lack of evidence to support Ghosn’s incarcerations..

  • avatar

    When a corporation fires a CEO for misconduct it usually indicates one of two things:

    – The board was unhappy with the CEO’s performance and this is a convenient reason to get rid of them and as a bonus it sends the public message that the company has high conduct standards. (Spoiler alert, all kinds of crazy misconduct is tolerated while the board is happy with the CEO’s performance)

    – The CEO had made too many enemies on the board or in the rest of the C suite.

    In this case I suspect it is the latter. Nissan’s suspicions about the man from Renault may have turned into outright hostility.

    • 0 avatar

      I read somewhere that he was flying back to Tokyo to fire the CEO of Nissan. A smart man wouldn’t try and fire someone who knew where all their skeletons were buried.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    This smells more like a setup every day. Also, for a man who’s not charged with a violent crime, he is surely being treated as such.

    If/when he gets out, I’d love to see Tesla hire him.

    • 0 avatar

      A set up? Sounds like he has committed some financial misdeeds. As to the Japanese system, yes it is more harsh but then I am sure the Japanese government or broader society really care what Amnesty international and others really think. They treat people harder than the US orvUK does. They also do things different in other areas – isn’t diversity meant to be good?

      I see Ghosn’s pampered family us trying the “poor mistreated man” PR angle. They just want to continue travelling free on the private jet from Brazil to France and on to Lebanon. That gravy train has been stopped.

    • 0 avatar

      “I’d love to see Tesla hire him.”

      No way. You want Tesla to make same crap as Nissan?

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    alls’ I can say is that Carlos is glad he wasn’t flying back for a meeting at the embassy to meet his Saudi debtor

  • avatar

    Reading through the transcript, it’s interesting how Ghosn and his lawyers are making appeals to Japanese culture.

    “I have acted honorably”
    “helping to restore its place as one of Japan’s finest and most respected companies.”
    ” my moral commitment to Nissan would not allow me to step down during that crucial time; a captain doesn’t jump ship in the middle of a storm.”
    “Nissan is an iconic Japanese company that I care about deeply. ”
    “We created, directly and indirectly, countless jobs in Japan and re-established Nissan as a pillar of the Japanese economy.”

    In any case, you never know what tomorrow may bring. Less than two years ago, Mark Fields was running Ford, Carlos Ghosn was running the largest automotive conglomerate in the world, and Sergio Marchionne was alive.

  • avatar

    10% market share vs 10% chance of getting out of jail.

  • avatar

    Slush funds!

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