Lebanese-French car tycoon Carlos Ghosn to spend Christmas behind bars

Lebanese-French car tycoon Carlos Ghosn to spend Christmas behind bars
3 min read
23 December, 2018
Lebanese-French car tycoon Carlos Ghosn will remain behind bars for Christmas and the new year.
Ghosn has been detained since November [Getty]

Japanese authorities have extended the detention of former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, so that the Lebanese-French car tycoon will spend Christmas and New Year behind bars.

The court said the extension will be valid until 1 January, but this sentence is also likely to be extended according to agencies.

Prosecutors can apply for a further 10-day extension as they quiz him on allegations of financial misconduct.

"Today, a decision was made to detain (Ghosn). The full term of the detention will expire on January 1," the Tokyo District Court said in a statement.

Ghosn has been behind bars since he was arrested out the blue in Tokyo on 19 November.

He was reportedly hoping to be released by Christmas and ready to hold a news conference to put his side of the story for the first time.

But those hopes were then dashed on Friday when prosecutors sought and obtained his re-arrest over the new accusations of breach of trust.

Authorities are pursuing three separate lines of enquiry against the 64-year-old Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian executive.

They suspect he conspired with his right-hand man, US executive Greg Kelly, to hide away around half of his income (some five billion yen or $44 million) over five fiscal years from 2010.

They also allege he under-reported his salary to the tune of four billion yen over the next three fiscal years - apparently to avoid criticism that his pay was too high.

He is also accused of shifting a personal investment loss made at the height of the financial crisis worth more than $16 million to the Japanese automaker with help from a Saudi acquaintance.

Prosecutors have pressed formal charges over the first allegation but not yet over the other accusations.

Ghosn reportedly denies all the allegations, saying the transactions were done legally.

Local media allege that Ghosn is not contesting that payments from Nissan totalling $14.7 million went to the Saudi person but says the money was for the person's work to help Nissan in the region.

A court threw out a request from prosecutors to extend his detention over the second set of allegations (under-reporting his salary between 2015 and 2018) in an almost unheard-of move, raising hopes he might be released by Christmas.

On Fridya, prosecutors sought and obtained his re-arrest over new allegations.

"The accused was responsible for managing Nissan's overall operations and for dutifully fulfilling his role as CEO not to cause damage to Nissan and its subsidiaries... but he took action that betrayed his role and caused financial damage to Nissan," prosecutors alleged in a statement on Friday.

He is detained in a small cell in Tokyo, where he has complained about the cold and the rice-based menu.

Ghosn has told embassy visitors he is being well treated and sources at French car giant Renault have described his frame of mind as "combative" as he fights the charges against him.