Economy

Nissan ex-chief Carlos Ghosn arrested for fourth time in Japan

Nissan ex-chief Carlos Ghosn arrested for fourth time in Japan”

Ghosn was first arrested in Tokyo in November and faces charges of financial misconduct and aggravated breach of trust over allegedly failing to report around US$82 million (S$111 million) in salary and temporarily transferring personal financial losses onto Nissan's books during the financial crisis.

More likely, the arrest is in response to the latest allegations of wrongdoing by Ghosn, in which Nissan and Renault executives say it appears the former chairman and CEO funneled over $32 million in company funds through a dealership in Oman to secretly purchase a luxury yacht.

"The intent of the prosecutors is to pressure Ghosn, and to stop him from speaking freely", Hironaka said, adding that access to what they saw as additional evidence was also a likely motive behind the latest arrest.

The arrest, he said, was "part of an attempt by some individuals at Nissan to silence me by misleading the prosecutors".

"Ordinarily, all they would have to do is file another indictment (rather than re-arrest him), so I have no idea why they had to detain him", Junichiro Hironaka, the lead defense lawyer, told reporters in front of his Tokyo office. "It's hard, I have to admit it, and I call on the French government to defend me, and to defend my rights as a citizen", Ghosn said. "I am innocent of the groundless charges and accusations against me".

Japanese TV footage showed officials entering Ghosn's apartment in Tokyo, and a vehicle later going to the prosecutors' office, barely a month after Ghosn was released on bail from the earlier arrests.

Authorities detained Ghosn early on Thursday on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust, using company money funneled through an intermediary for personal purposes, prosecutors said in a statement.

Prosecutors also took the unusual step of setting up a no-entry zone to avoid confusion once Ghosn left the premises.

Sources told Reuters this week that French automaker and Nissan partner Renault SA had alerted French prosecutors after uncovering suspect payments to a Renault-Nissan business partner in Oman while Ghosn was chief executive. The arrests prolong detentions without trial. A condition for his release on bail included not using the internet, but it is unclear if the authorities are considering the tweet a technical violation.

He was first arrested in November on charges of under-reporting his compensation.

Mr Ghosn denies all charges against him.

A spokesman at the Tokyo prosecutors' office was not immediately able to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Nissan said it could not comment on judicial decisions or processes.

If Tokyo prosecutors were to proceed, it would be the fourth criminal charge against the 65-year-old former high-flying auto executive, who denies all allegations.

On Wednesday, Renault said Ghosn had made questionable payments to a distributor in the Middle East and an outside lawyer.

The Oman-related transactions were revealed in probes and amounted to millions of euros to companies in Oman and Lebanon that may have then been used for the personal benefit of Ghosn and his family, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are not public.

A Suhail Bahwan spokesperson couldn't be reached for immediate comment.



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