Carlos Ghosn likely to spend six more months in jail, says lawyer

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Carlos Ghosn's court appearance has been headline news in Japan, including on public TV screens

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn could be in jail for another six months, his lawyer says.

On Tuesday, Mr Ghosn appeared in court for the first time since his shock arrest in Japan in November last year.

Mr Ghosn, 64, was once hailed as the man who saved Nissan. He was led into court in handcuffs with a rope around his waist.

Mr Ghosn, a towering figure of the car industry, also looked visibly thinner.

So far, Mr Ghosn has been arrested three times. His current detention period ends on 11 January.

Asked whether his client could expect to be bailed at the end of this detention period, his lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, said: "In general, in such cases in Japan, it is usually not approved before the first trial takes place."

He then said that it could be six months before that first trial was held.

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A crowd of reporters waited outside the court in Tokyo on Tuesday

His initial arrest shocked the industry and his lengthy detention has drawn some criticism.

But a judge said incarcerating Mr Ghosn was justified to prevent possible evidence-tampering and the risk that he might flee.

What are the accusations?

Mr Ghosn, who was hailed as the man who saved Nissan by building alliance with Renault, has been accused of "significant acts of misconduct", including under-reporting his pay package and personal use of company assets.

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.

If found guilty of the financial misconduct charges, Mr Ghosn faces up to 10 years in prison as well as a fine of up to 700m yen ($6.4m; £5m), according to Japanese regulators.

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

Mr Ghosn said he had "never been accused of any wrongdoing" and had dedicated two decades to "reviving Nissan".

The 64-year-old said he never received any compensation from Nissan that was not disclosed.

He was first arrested on 19 November for understating his pay and rearrested twice in December.

His most recent arrest involved fresh allegations of breach of trust.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Members of Carlos Ghosn's legal team ahead of his appearance at the Tokyo District court

Who is Carlos Ghosn?

  • His hero status was such that his life was serialised in one of Japan's famous cartoon comic books
  • The Brazilian-born boss of Lebanese descent and a French citizen says his background left him with a feeling of being different, which helped him adapt to new cultures
  • In France he was known as Le Cost Killer, a comment on the deep cuts he made to revive Renault
  • He was once tipped as a potential president of Lebanon, a move he eventually dismissed because he already had "too many jobs"
  • In a 2011 poll of people the Japanese would like to run their country, Mr Ghosn came seventh, in front of Barack Obama (ninth)

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