Ghosn before Japanese judge: ‘I’ve been falsely accused’
This morning (10:30 a.m. Japan, 1:30 a.m. GMT), CEO of Renault and ex-chairman of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance, Carlos Ghosn, declared having been “falsely accused and unfairly detained”. The 64-year-old asked for the opportunity to appear before the judge, two months after his arrest for tax fraud and embezzlement by the Japanese authorities.
Dressed in a black costume, the French CEO declared that he “dedicated two decades of his life to redress Nissan and create the alliance” adding that he “acted with honour, legally and with the knowledge and approval of the company’s managers”. “I’ve been falsely accused and unfairly detained”, added the ex-chairman.
Still in detention
The procedure of appearing before the judge is rare in Japan – only 0,6% of prisoners asked for it last year – and has nearly no chances of changing Mr Ghosn’s fate. Yet, the symbolic is strong for the CEO who hasn’t had an opportunity to give his opinion for several weeks. The French ambassador was present for the hearing and so were the Lebanese and Brazilian ambassadors.
“Even if it only lasted ten minutes, for him it’s very important to give his truth to the world”, reacted the Cetelem automotive Observatory manager, Flavien Neuvy. This afternoon, Ghosn’s team of lawyers should also hold a press conference after the hearing. For his part, the Japanese judge already justified the continued detention for risk of escape.
On December 10th, Carlo Ghosn was arrested as soon as his plane touched down in Japan. He is accused of hiding nearly five billion yens (38 million euro) earned at Nissan between 2010 and 2015 from the Japanese taxes. After his first detention period came to an end, he was arrested again for the same charges but this time for the years between 2015 and 2018. Finally, a third time, for breach of trust.
On his side, Mr Ghosn denies all accusations. The wife of Greg Kelly – Ghosn’s right-hand man arrested the same day and bailed out on December 25th – denounces an international conspiracy and the betrayal of some Nissan leaders.
Renault keeps on going
In France, Renault keeps a low profile but continues to back its CEO and continue to trust in him, unlike Nissan and Mitsubishi who sacked him from their board. United with the Japanese car maker since 1999, the French brand tries to keep its head up in the storm. “The value of the alliance itself comes from the day-to-day work, I don’t think it is in danger”, assured Monday to the AFP the CEO of Nissan, Hiroto Saikawa.