Tokyo court extends detention of Nissans former chief

JOSEPH EID  AFP

JOSEPH EID AFP

If found guilty of the crimes he has been charged with, Ghosn could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and fined up to £4.9 million by Japanese financial regulators.

The architect of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November accused of under-reporting his salary, using company assets for personal use and other claims.

The Tokyo District Court reportedly approved a request from prosecutors to extend Ghosn's detention by 10 days.

In Japan, formal charges can mean a suspect is detained for months, sometimes until the trial starts, because of fears of tampered evidence.

Tokyo prosecutors say they consider Ghosn - a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry - to be a flight risk. Former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly, who was arrested at the same time as Ghosn, was indicted, too.

Pedestrians look at a television screen showing a news program featuring former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn in Tokyo on December 21, 2018.

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Ghosn maintains that Nissan ultimately didn't suffer any losses from the temporary transfer since he later took the transaction back onto his own books, and that the $14.7 million in payments were for legitimate Nissan business purposes, according to a person familiar with his defense. He also said he was innocent and hoped to regain his reputation.

The growing case against the auto tycoon represents a stunning reversal of fortune for a man once revered in Japan and beyond for his ability to turn around automakers, including Nissan.

Ghosn, accused of aggravated breach of trust, is facing allegations of making the vehicle maker shoulder 1.85 billion yen (13.2 million pounds) in personal investment losses.

Ghosn served as CEO of Nissan for more than a decade through 2017 and concurrently held the chairman position at Renault, Nissan and partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp until his arrest. Nissan officials have been cooperating closely with the prosecutors in the investigation.

Nissan has rejected the calls for a shareholder meeting at this stage, and says it is waiting until a commission looking into governance at the firm releases its findings.

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