Ghosn Professes Innocence in Court Hearing

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ghosn professes innocence in court hearing

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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