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Economy

Ghosn to address Japanese court

media Carlos Ghosn REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn is to appear in Japanese court on Tuesday where he will make a brief statement, after his lawyers found an obscure article in the Japanese constitution that allows him to demand an explanation for his detention.

According to Yasuyuki Takai, a former investigator at the unit that arrested Ghosn, the hearing is "a dialogue between the lawyer and the judge, and the prosecutor is not required to be present."

Ghosn was detained in November 2018, accused of two counts of under-reporting his salary by a total of around nine billion yen (70 million euros) between 2010 and 2018 in official documents sent to shareholders.

He is further accused of trying to transfer 1.85 billion yen (14.5 million euros) in personal investment losses during the financial crisis to Nissan.

He is also accused of wiring company funds to a Saudi associate who put up collateral for him in the investment scheme.

Ghosn was initially detained on 19 November and held until 10 December as prosecutors investigated the first allegation against him.

He was then formally charged, kicking off a two-month period of pre-trial detention that is renewable.

Prosecutors also simultaneously re-arrested him on the second set of allegations, resetting the clock on his detention.

A court rejected a further extension of his detention – raising the possibility of Ghosn's release on bail – but in another twist, prosecutors then slapped the tycoon with a third set of allegations, once again resetting process.

The case has sparked criticism of the Japanese legal system, especially from overseas.

Impact on Renault-Nissan cooperation downplayed

Nissan's alliance with France's Renault is no danger "at all", according to the Japanese automaker's CEO, Hiroto Saikawa. 

In an interview with AFP, Saikawa brushed aside suggestions that the alliance, which also includes Mitsubishi Motors, was under threat, after tensions exposed by the arrest of Ghosn, who was spearheading a potential merger between the two car giants.

"I don't think it's in danger at all," he said.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the French weekly Journal du Dimanche (JDD), Ghosn's son, Antony, said his father was “calm and concentrated on answering the accusations against him”. He described “unhealthy” conditions where his father has reportedly lost around ten kilos after “eating three bowls of rice per day.”

Interrogations take place from early morning into late evening and last one or two hours, according to Ghosn's son, who added that his father had been asked to sign a confession that was “written entirely in Japanese, when he doesn’t master the language. 

Ghosn Junior told JDD that he had sent his father Scott Peck’s, The Road Less Travelled, “about life and how to overcome very difficult circumstances”.

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