Carlos Ghosn, Ex-Nissan Chairman, Declares Innocence from Jail



UPDATE 1/9/19: Ghosn has lost an appeal to be released from jail while awaiting a future trial on financial-misconduct charges. The Tokyo District Court rejected the former Nissan chairman’s petition. This means he could remain in jail as long as six months before a trial takes place, Bloomberg News reported, citing Ghosn’s own lead attorney. The news service noted that his current imprisonment is set to end on January 11, but he is expected to face new or renewed charges then that will keep him in jail while prosecutors prepare for a future trial. Ghosn plans to appeal today’s decision.

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After seven weeks and counting, Carlos Ghosn, former Nissan chairman and current chairman and CEO of Renault, was finally able to defend himself in court against the Japanese prosecutors and Nissan directors whose allegations of financial crimes have kept him in jail for seven weeks and counting.

“I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated allegations,” Ghosn said, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. His lawyer, former prosecutor Motonari Ōtsuru, said on Tuesday that “There is no evidence of a crime.”

Ghosn, who has been jailed since November 19, told the court on Monday that he has done nothing illegal. Japanese law essentially allows prosecutors to detain suspects as long as they wish until that suspect confesses or until a trial is called. Ghosn, who was deemed by the court to be a flight risk and denied bail, may stay in jail for months more until his trial.

Ghosn has been charged only with making false disclosures about his income on Nissan’s corporate financial statements. Responding to that accusation, Ghosn said Nissan never finalized his contract and that the unreported money was for future payments Nissan would not pay him until his retirement.

Nissan has alleged that Ghosn used company assets for personal gain, including purchasing luxury apartments in Brazil and Lebanon and funneling money to a Saudi businessman to take care of a personal debt. His lawyer said that the businessman, Khaled Al Juffali, was a legitimate business partner who helped Nissan fix a dispute with a distributor in the region and that Ghosn used Al Juffali for a contract to convert his Nissan salary from yen to U.S. dollars and thus avoid currency swings. Ghosn maintains his innocence on all the allegations.

Since the initial arrest, Ghosn was removed from the chairmanship of both Nissan and Mitsubishi. He remains chairman and CEO at Renault and CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

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