Carlos Ghosn to fight to 'bitter end' as ex-Nissan chairman detained for 10 days

Ghosn, who can be questioned without his lawyers present, declares innocence in TV interview just before re-arrest

Carlos Ghosn will be detained for questioning for 10 days, a court has decided, after the former Nissan chairman was re-arrested on Thursday, reportedly over allegations he misused company funds.

Prosecutors applied to extend Ghosn’s detention, a move that was approved by judges in Tokyo. The former executive has already been held for 108 days on three other charges of financial misconduct and aggravated breach of trust before he was granted bail in early March.

Ghosn declared his innocence during a combative interview with French television that was recorded hours before he was re-arrested on Thursday morning.

The Frenchman said he would defend himself “to the bitter end” and voiced concern that he would not receive a fair trial in Japan, where his treatment at the hands of prosecutors has drawn criticism from the domestic and international legal community.

“I have doubts over the way the judgment will take place. If there is a fair ruling, I am very confident but if it is not fair, I am worried about what will happen,” Ghosn told the French broadcaster TF1.

Since the court approved his detention, Ghosn can be questioned without his lawyers present, with prosecutors able to request a further 10-day extension. They must then either formally charge him, release him or re-arrest him in connection with new allegations.

In Thursday’s TV interview, Ghosn said his watch had been confiscated during his previous time in detention, adding that he had been forced to sleep with the light on and forbidden from having contact with his family. “I wouldn’t wish what I have suffered on my worst enemy,” he said.

The 65-year-old, who holds French, Brazilian and Lebanese nationalities, added: “I call on the French government to defend me, and to defend my rights as a citizen.” The French government said Ghosn must enjoy the presumption of innocence, adding that he was receiving consular assistance.

Japanese TV showed more than a dozen prosecutors arriving at Ghosn’s apartment in Tokyo early on Thursday, less than a month after he was freed on bail.

He was first arrested in November 2018 and faces two charges of financial misconduct and one of aggravated breach of trust.

Ghosn condemned the latest development in a case that has gripped Japan and raised questions about the country’s criminal justice system.

In a statement made through his representatives, he said: “It is part of another attempt by some individuals at Nissan to silence me by misleading the prosecutors. Why arrest me except to try to break me? I will not be broken.”

Shin Kukimoto, a deputy chief prosecutor, said prosecutors had acted appropriately. “We now have a totally different case, and we are only doing what we think is right,” he said. “As a result of our investigation, we have a new case in which he must be detained, and we have appropriately obtained an arrest warrant from the court.”

Ghosn has repeatedly denied allegations that he understated his salary by tens of millions of dollars as head of Nissan, and that he used company funds to cover up personal investment losses.

Thursday’s arrest relates to $15m in Nissan funds paid to a distributor in Oman between 2015-18. Prosecutors claim that Ghosn caused the Japanese carmaker losses by transferring around 5 million USD of the total to an investment company he effectively owned. Some of the money was allegedly used to buy a luxury yacht for his family.

Prosecutors also seized the passport of his wife, Carole, along with her computer and mobile phone, the family’s French lawyer told Associated Press in Paris.

Ghosn’s representatives denied any irregularities in the use of the discretionary fund at the centre of the latest arrest, adding that “under no circumstances has all or part of such payments benefited Carlos Ghosn or his family”.

His head lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, said the latest “reckless” arrest was an attempt to silence his client, who tweeted on Wednesday that he was “getting ready to tell the truth” at a press conference next week.

“The court granted Mr Ghosn bail because it judged that there is no fear of flight or destroying of evidence,” Hironaka said. “The intention of the prosecutors is to pressure him and stop him from speaking freely.”

Ghosn is credited with rescuing Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy two decades ago and forging a successful alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors. He was sacked as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi soon after his arrest and later resigned as head of Renault.

Wire agencies contributed to this report.


Justin McCurry in Tokyo

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