Ghosn Defends Himself in Court Saying He Was 'Wrongly Accused'
Carlos Ghosn, in his first words to the world since his arrest almost two months ago for alleged financial crimes, said he’s been wrongly accused and detained.
The former Nissan Motor Co. chairman, once feted as the automaker’s savior, appeared in court in a navy blue suit and white shirt and seemed to have lost weight, according to local broadcasters.
Tuesday’s hearing at a Tokyo district court, not far from the Imperial Palace, is the first chance for Ghosn to provide his version of events following accusations that he under-reported his compensation and transferred personal trading losses to Nissan. Ghosn told the court he got no compensation from Nissan that wasn’t disclosed.
After weeks in jail, the executive’s public defense -- in his own words -- was highly anticipated: A whopping 1,122 tickets were handed out out Tuesday in a lottery to attend Ghosn’s hearing -- about 80 times oversubscribed -- for the 14 public seats available in the courtroom gallery.
The high-profile executive was the architect of the alliance between Nissan, France’s Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. While he was dismissed as Nissan chairman shortly after his arrest, Renault has kept him on as chairman and chief executive officer because it needs evidence of wrongdoing.
And his appearance lends a new dimension to a legal battle that has been largely one-sided. Accusations against him have layered up and his confinement has repeatedly been extended. He was re-arrested on fresh charges on Dec. 21, just when it looked like he may be able to apply for bail.
The session followed a request by Ghosn’s legal team for the court to explain why he still remains in detention.
If proven, each of Ghosn’s alleged offenses may carry a sentence of as much as 10 years, prosecutors have said. Nissan has also accused Ghosn of misusing company funds, including over homes from Brazil to Lebanon and hiring his sister on an advisory contract.
Ghosn’s legal team is due to speak to the press at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo at 3 p.m. local time on Tuesday. His chief lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, will read a statement from Ghosn.