Japanese prosecutors indicted former Nissan Motor Co Chairman Carlos Ghosn on Monday on a charge of aggravated breach of trust, a Tokyo court said, bringing the fourth charge against him on the day his detention period was set to expire.
Ghosn’s lawyers filed a request for bail shortly after the latest indictment, which comes after authorities arrested him on April 4 for the fourth time, on suspicion he enriched himself by a total of $5 million at Nissan’s expense. Ghosn, who faces three other charges including understating his income, has denied all allegations against him and said he is the victim of a boardroom coup. Nissan on Monday said it had filed a criminal complaint against the former chairman, saying it had determined that some of its overseas payments had been ordered by Ghosn for his personal enrichment.
The payments were “not necessary from a business standpoint”, Nissan said in a statement, adding: “Such misconduct is completely unacceptable, and Nissan is requesting appropriately strict penalties.” Prosecutors were due to hold a briefing and Ghosn’s lawyers were also due to speak to reporters on Monday. Prosecutors had to indict or release Ghosn by Monday under the terms of his detention.
Before he was re-arrested this month, Ghosn had been out on $9 million bail for 30 days. He is now being held in the same Tokyo detention centre where he was detained for 108 days following his dramatic initial arrest on the tarmac at a Tokyo airport in November.
The Kyodo news agency has previously reported that the losses involved the shifting of funds through a dealer in Oman to the account of a company Ghosn effectively owned. The agency did not cite any sources. Sources have previously told Reuters that Nissan partner Renault SA has alerted French prosecutors after uncovering suspect payments to a partner in Oman.
Evidence sent to French prosecutors showed that much of the cash was subsequently channelled to a Lebanese company controlled by Ghosn associates, the sources said. Ghosn’s French lawyer has denied the allegations.
Ghosn has accused his former Nissan colleagues of “backstabbing” and conspiring to oust him as chairman of Nissan. He has described Nissan executives as selfish rivals bent on derailing a closer alliance between the Japanese automaker and its top shareholder, Renault.
The case has rocked the global auto industry and also shone a harsh light on Japan’s judicial system, which critics refer to as “hostage justice” as defendants who deny their charges are often not granted bail. Under Japanese law, prosecutors are able to hold suspects for up to 22 days without charge and interrogate them without their lawyers present.