Ghosn: towards a new arrest warrant despite his denials

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CEO of French car maker Renault at a press conference in Tokyo on October 20, 2016 / AFP / Archives

CEO of French car maker Renault at a press conference in Tokyo on October 20, 2016 / AFP / Archives

The Tokyo prosecutor's office will demand a new arrest warrant against Carlos Ghosn, on new suspicions of revenue cuts, the Japanese media said Wednesday, charges that deny and have not yet been transmitted to Renault.

The CEO of the French car manufacturer, removed from office as chairman of the boards of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors after his arrest in Tokyo on November 19, has been in custody since to have, according to Japanese investigators, concealed from the stock market authorities about 5 billion yen (38 million euros) of revenue over five years.

The new charges against him, which justify according to the press to relaunch a procedure of police custody that can last for 22 days from Monday, December 10, concern the concealment of income over three years more, for a total of 4 billion yen (31 million euros).

The investigations could also be extended to other reasons, Nissan blaming its former savior for having committed abuses of corporate assets, such as the use of luxury residences at group expense.

Mr. Ghosn continues to deny all charges against him.

At Renault, where news of the person concerned comes through lawyers and the diplomatic corps, it is said that he is ready to defend himself. "He is in a brave and combative state of mind," says one at the headquarters of Boulogne-Billancourt. "Messages of support, respect and even affection" were sent to her by the management.

However, Wednesday, the French manufacturer, which owns 43% of Nissan, had still not been able to obtain from the Japanese partner elements of its internal investigation sent to the Japanese justice.

Carlos Ghosn was dismissed as Chairman of the Boards of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors after his arrest in Tokyo on November 19 / AFP

Carlos Ghosn was dismissed as Chairman of the Boards of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors after his arrest in Tokyo on November 19 / AFP

According to a source close to the company, the Japanese partner has proposed to communicate a synthesis in the form of "slides", but Renault claims a transmission from lawyer to lawyer of all the evidence.

Within the French group, we ensure compliance procedures and Japanese justice, but we still do not understand how the boss could have concealed income.

– "The stupor goes up" –

"We respect the rule of law and the presumption of innocence," says a manager. But the amazement of the first days is always present. "The three companies (Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi) have experienced trauma and the more days pass, the more the stupor goes up," he adds.

Renault also ensures that the company continues to work "normally" with Nissan and Mitsubishi in the Franco-Japanese alliance. The managing director, Thierry Bolloré, who is taking over from Ghosn, is very familiar with Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, with whom he has been working daily for five years.

The Tokyo detention center where Carlos Ghosn / AFP is being held

The Tokyo detention center where Carlos Ghosn / AFP is being held

According to a source familiar with the matter, it was expected before the scandal began that Mr. Bolloré, the dolphin appointed last February, formally succeeds Mr. Ghosn at the head of Renault in February. Its priority remains in any case the strengthening of the alliance.

In Japan, the prosecution has also defended itself against criticism of the length of the judicial proceedings and the conditions of detention from abroad.

"Every country has its own history, its own tradition, its own judicial system, I do not criticize the laws of other countries just because they are different, and I find it inappropriate to do so," said Shin Kukimoto, deputy prosecutor Tokyo, at a press conference.

"We do not keep suspects in prolonged custody if it's not necessary," he said.

Far from his once glitzy lifestyle, Carlos Ghosn now lives in a prison cell in North Tokyo. His lawyers can not attend the hearings and visits are very limited.

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