Japan: custody of Carlos Ghosn extended until April 22


TOKYO: The Tokyo court on Friday authorized the prolongation of custody of Carlos Ghosn until April 22, in connection with new charges of alleged malpractices that interrupted his short period of freedom.

At the end of this period, the former CEO of Renault-Nissan, aged 65, may be charged and held in custody, arrested again for another reason, or be released without prosecution.

The court’s decision, which granted a slightly shorter extension than was required by the prosecution, was announced in a brief statement, without further explanation. Ghosn’s lawyers appealed immediately.

Since his re-arrest on April 4 at his home in Tokyo, barely a month after his release on bail, the fallen car magnate is in the prison of Kosuge district (north of the capital), where he is regularly interrogated by the investigators of the prosecutor’s office.

They question him on suspicion of misappropriation of funds from Nissan, made via a distributor of vehicles of the manufacturer abroad. This is the Sultanate of Oman, according to sources close to the case.

Out of a total of $ 15 million paid between late 2015 and mid-2018, $ 5 million was used for the personal benefit of  Ghosn, according to the prosecutor’s office.

In this case with many twists, the wife of Carlos Ghosn, Carole, was heard as a witness Thursday.

She came back to Tokyo expressly a few days after hurriedly leaving the Japanese capital because she felt “in danger”.

According to elements of Nissan’s internal investigation, part of the sums allegedly diverted resulted in the accounts of a company she runs, “Beauty Yachts”, registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The money would have been used to buy a luxury boat, a cost of 12 million euros, called “Shachou” (pronounced “Shatcho”, boss in Japanese), said a person familiar with the investigations.

The all-powerful CEO, who has fallen out of favour since his arrest in Tokyo on November 19, has already been charged three times: two for inaccurate statements of income over the years 2010 to 2018, in documents submitted by Nissan to the financial authorities, and one for breach of trust. He is accused of trying to have the company cover losses on personal investments during the 2008 economic crisis.

In a video recorded on April 3 and broadcast this week, Carlos Ghosn once again proclaims his innocence, claiming to be the victim of a “conspiracy”, a “betrayal” of a small team of Nissan leaders who wanted to fall to try to prevent a merger project with his ally Renault.