Former Nissan CEO Carlos Chosn appears in court, claims innocence

Updated January 8, 2019 - 6:45 am

TOKYO — The former chairman of Japan’s Nissan Motor Co., Carlos Ghosn, denied any wrongdoing and proclaimed his loyalty to the company at a court hearing in Tokyo on Tuesday.

It was Ghosn’s first public appearance since he was arrested on Nov. 19 and charged with false financial reporting.

“Your honor, I am innocent of the accusations against me,” Ghosn told the judge, speaking firmly and calmly as he read from a statement. “I am wrongfully accused.”

Prosecutors have charged Ghosn, who led a dramatic turnaround at the Japanese automaker over the past two decades, with falsifying financial reports in underreporting his income by about 5 billion yen ($44 million) over five years through 2015.

They also say he is suspected of having Nissan temporarily take on his investment losses from the financial crisis.

Wearing plastic slippers and a dark suit without a tie, Ghosn rebutted the allegations against him point-by-point and said he had the option to leave Nissan but had decided to stay on.

“A captain doesn’t jump ship during a storm,” said Ghosn, who was visibly thinner than before his arrest.

The veteran auto executive, a familiar face at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and other elite gatherings, was handcuffed and led into the courtroom with a rope around his waist as the hearing began. Officers removed his handcuffs and seated him on a bench.

Presiding judge Yuichi Tada then read out the charges and said Ghosn, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, was considered a flight risk — he was arrested on his arrival in Tokyo by private jet — and might try to hide evidence.

In Japan, suspects are routinely held without bail, often due to fears about evidence tampering.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Go Kondo, one of Ghosn’s lawyers, argued he was not a flight risk.

“He’s widely known so it’s difficult for him to escape. There is no risk that the suspect will destroy evidence,” he said.

Facing the courtroom, Ghosn spoke proudly of the automaker’s — and his own — achievements, such as reviving iconic models like the GT-R and the Z, expanding operations in China, Russia, Brazil and India and pioneering electric cars and autonomous driving.

“I have a genuine love and appreciation for Nissan,” he said.

Ghosn has been held in Spartan conditions at a Tokyo detention facility since he was taken into custody. However, Ghosn’s defense lawyer Motonari Ohtsuru told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club late Tuesday that Ghosn was transferred to a bigger room with a bed at his request.

In keeping with Japanese regulations, he has been allowed visits only from his lawyers and consular officials.

Ghosn said he had “acted honorably, legally and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company with the sole purpose of supporting and strengthening Nissan,” according to a statement released to some media including The Associated Press before the hearing and confirmed by his legal team.

It said he had not failed to disclose any of his income from Nissan.

Ghosn also defended payments questioned by prosecutors and by Nissan that were made to Khaled Juffali, a Saudi businessman. He said the money was paid to Juffali for real work that he did to sort out problems with a local distributor.

Before the hearing, the Khaled Juffali Company issued a statement saying the $14.7 million in payments over four years from Nissan “were for legitimate business purposes.”

Other Nissan executives approved the payment, Ohtsuru said.

Ghosn said his personal investment losses stemmed from being paid in Japanese yen and that he had only asked Nissan to temporarily provide collateral for foreign exchange contracts. The company suffered no losses, he said.

Sent to Japan by Nissan’s alliance partner Renault SA of France in 1999, Ghosn led a spectacular turnaround at the Yokohama-based automaker over two decades, during which he mostly served as chief executive.

Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan, while Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault. The alliance, which in recent years has added smaller Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp., has risen to be one of the most successful in the industry, rivaling Volkswagen AG of Germany and Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp.

Ghosn remains the head of Renault and is still on Nissan’s board of directors.

His courtroom appearance drew worldwide attention, with throngs of cameras set up outside the Tokyo Detention Center to capture his departure. No cameras or audio recordings are allowed in Japanese court sessions.

Authorities also arrested a fellow Nissan executive and aide to Ghosn, Greg Kelly, charging him with collaborating with Ghosn to underreport his income. Kelly, an American, was released on bail on Dec. 25. He also has maintained his innocence.

Tokyo prosecutors have repeatedly extended Ghosn’s detention by adding new allegations. The latest is suspicion of breach of trust stemming from the claim he had Nissan temporarily shoulder his personal investment losses.

Formal charges on those allegations have not been filed and no trial dates have been set for Ghosn or Kelly.

Ghosn’s detention now runs through Friday.

Ohtsuru said that preparations for a trial on charges of breach of trust could take months. He said he would continue to appeal Ghosn’s detention.

Ghosn’s protege and successor, Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa, has denounced Ghosn, claiming he used company assets and money for personal gain and falsified financial reports.

Nissan spokesman Nicholas Maxfield said an investigation by the company that found “substantial and convincing evidence of misconduct” prompted prosecutors to act.

Under Japanese law, falsifying financial reporting carries the maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a 10 million yen ($89,000) fine, or both. But some experts have questioned the allegations against Kelly and Ghosn since Nissan itself, not individual executives, should be responsible for filing such financial reports.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Three Square helps TSA workers
Three Square Food Bank donated over 400 care bags to TSA workers affected by the government shutdown Wednesday, filled with food, personal hygiene products and water.
Las Vegas furniture store donates to Clark County firehouses
Walker Furniture donated new mattresses to all 30 Clark County firehouses in the Las Vegas Valley, starting today with Station 22. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jeffrey Martin Added To Nevada's Black Book
Martin was one of four men convicted of theft and cheating at gambling in 2016 in Clark County District Court and sentenced to prison. The Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday to include Martin in the black book.
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Buffalo Wild Wings security video
Security footage from a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in southwest Las Vegas captured a driver who repeatedly crashed into a vehicle in a failed attempt to squeeze into a tight parking spot.
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Navigating the new I-515 southbound to 215 Beltway ramp configuration
After opening at 5 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, the new Interstate 515 southbound to the 215 Beltway westbound freeway ramp configuration caused confusion amongst motorist. Here’s how to navigate the new ramp. (Mick Akers/ Las Vegas Review-Journal).
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like