A Tokyo court on Monday approved yet another a request from prosecutors to extend the detention of former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn for alleged financial misconduct. This stretch should keep the automaker’s savior behind bars until Jan. 11.
Ghosn, who was initially charged, twice, for allegedly underreporting his remuneration, has been detained since November and was served a fresh arrest warrant on Dec. 21 for allegedly transferring personal investment losses worth ¥1.85 billion ($17 million) to the automaker’s books in 2008.
Ghosn has denied the allegations. The deadline for his current stretch of detention had been Jan. 1.
The unusual confinement of Ghosn, credited with saving the automaker when it was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy in the late 1990s, has sparked criticism that Japan is engaging in so-called hostage justice, in which detention is prolonged indefinitely, and over the absence of lawyers to represent him during interrogations, which is the norm in Japan.
Ghosn and Greg Kelly, his close aide and a former representative director of Nissan, were first arrested on Nov. 19 on suspicion of understating roughly ¥5 billion of the former chairman’s ¥10 billion remuneration in Nissan’s securities reports during the five years through March 2015. They were then hit with the same charge again but for a different time period.
The two men and the automaker were indicted on Dec. 10 for allegedly violating Japan’s financial instruments law.
Although Kelly, an American citizen, was released on bail Tuesday, Ghosn’s detention was extended yet again on Dec. 21 after he was served another arrest warrant on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust against Nissan.
That allegation involves the transfer to Nissan of a derivatives contract between Ghosn’s personal asset management firm and Tokyo-based Shinsei Bank in October 2008.
The transfer allegedly took place after the contract incurred an appraised loss of ¥1.85 billion ($16.6 million) resulting from the 2008 global financial crisis that prompted the bank to call for additional collateral, sources knowledgeable about the matter said.
The contract was transferred back to Ghosn’s asset management firm after a Saudi acquaintance guaranteed credit, they said. In return, Ghosn is suspected of using Nissan’s subsidiary in the Middle East to pay the acquaintance $14.7 million from 2009 to 2012, according to the sources.
Ghosn admitted to shifting the contract to Nissan but denied causing any real loss to the company, saying he temporarily needed the company’s creditworthiness and had no intention of using its funds to erase the loss, the sources said.
He also admitted that payments were made to the acquaintance’s company, but said they were made because some Nissan-related businesses had been outsourced, they said.
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