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Accusations against me by Nissan aren't true, Ghosn says

By CAI HONG | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-01-09 09:12
Former Nissan Motor Chariman Carlos Ghosn leaves the Tokyo Detention House in Tokyo, Japan, on April 25, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

Carlos Ghosn, former chairman of Nissan Motor Co, said in Beirut on Wednesday the allegations of financial misconduct against him are untrue.

At his first news conference after fleeing Japan, Ghosn said he was "ripped" from his family and "brutally taken from my world", adding that he had been treated brutally and ruthlessly by Japanese prosecutors, who threatened to take action against his family if he didn't confess to their accusations.

He added that there was a plot against him from Japanese government and Nissan.

On Tuesday, Tokyo prosecutors issued a warrant for the arrest of Carole Ghosn, the wife of Carlos Ghosn, on suspicion of perjury, according to Japanese media.

In April, Japanese prosecutors seized her Lebanese passport, but failed to find her United States passport. She is now in Beirut.

Ghosn ran Japanese car giant Nissan until he was arrested in Japan on charges of financial misconduct-which he denies-in November 2018. After having been released on bail in spring last year, he was awaiting trial.

As part of the conditions of his $13.8 million bail, Ghosn was required to remain in Japan.

But he skipped bail in the final days of 2019 to board a private jet that took him to Turkey before he traveled to Lebanon, where he is a citizen.

On Dec 31, Ghosn released a statement from Lebanon, saying he fled from Japan to escape "injustice and political persecution".

Ghosn was barred from meeting with his wife while out on bail. Preparing for his trial had taken more than a year, and a date had not been set. He was detained, twice, for a total of 130 days before he was released on bail a second time.

He insisted he had organized his escape "alone" and denied reports his wife had helped him.

The Financial Times newspaper said the arrest warrant for his wife could be designed to target Carole Ghosn as a US passport holder. Japan has an extradition treaty with the US.

Japan is seeking Ghosn's extradition from Lebanon, although the country does not have a treaty with Japan.

On Wednesday, Tokyo prosecutors raided the office of Junichiro Hironaka, one of Ghosn's lawyers. Japanese media reports said prosecutors had likely seized the computer to find out how Ghosn escaped and who might have helped him.

A statement released in Ghosn's defense on Wednesday slammed Nissan's internal investigation as flawed and aimed only at taking him down.

Japan's Justice Minister Masako Mori said in Tokyo on Monday that the country will strengthen border checks and review bail conditions after Ghosn's escape.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the team that spirited Ghosn out of the country made numerous trips to Japan to scout out possible escape routes.

Mori said each nation has its own judicial system and arrests are rarer in Japan than in other countries, suggesting that arrests are made only when the authorities are fairly confident they have a case.

French authorities are also investigating Ghosn and the automakers. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire had said he was surprised by Ghosn's escape and wants a broader investigation into $12.3 million in questionable expenses under Ghosn's watch at the Netherlands-based headquarters of the alliance between Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, according to AP.

Le Maire wouldn't say where Ghosn should be prosecuted, but said that as Renault's biggest single shareholder, the French government wants to ensure the struggling automaker prospers again.

Nissan said in a statement on Monday that Ghosn's escape would not affect its policy of holding him responsible for "serious misconduct".

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