Tokyo prosecutors eye building another case against Ghosn

04, Apr. 2019

TOKYO, Kyodo - Tokyo prosecutors are considering building another case against former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, this time in connection with payments the automaker made to a distributor in Oman, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.

The prosecutors are looking at a further charge of aggravated breach of trust, suspecting that some of the automaker's funds paid to the distributor since 2012 when Ghosn was Nissan CEO were channeled to a company run by Ghosn's family member for personal use, they said.

Ghosn, 65, who was released on bail on March 6 after 108 days in detention over alleged financial misconduct at Nissan, said in a Twitter post Wednesday that he will hold his first press conference since being bailed on April 11.

“I'm getting ready to tell the truth about what's happening,” Ghosn wrote.

Ghosn, initially arrested on Nov. 19, has been charged with underreporting his remuneration for years in Nissan's securities reports presented to Japanese regulators. He also faces a different charge of aggravated breach of trust for transferring private investment losses to Nissan's books.

The once-feted auto tycoon has denied the two charges.

As for the fresh allegation, a total of 3.5 billion yen ($31 million) was transferred to the Omani distributor as sales incentives from Nissan's so-called CEO reserve, a pool of funds Ghosn could use at his discretion, since 2012, according to the sources.

Allegations have emerged that money was transferred from a private bank account that an executive of the Omani distributor opened in Lebanon to the company of Ghosn's family member via an investment firm run by the Omani executive, the sources said.

The prosecutors suspect that the funds provided by the Omani executive were then spent to purchase a yacht worth 1.6 billion yen for use by Ghosn's family and others, they said.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors' Office is expected to make the final decision on whether to build the case after consulting the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, they said.

The arrest of Ghosn, who was credited with saving Nissan when it was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy in the late 1990s, has rocked one of the world's biggest auto alliances grouping Nissan, Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. that he created. (Kyodo)