Ghosn indicted on fresh charge of Nissan fund misuse

Carlos Ghosn, Chairman of Nissan
Carlos Ghosn, Chairman of Nissan Nissan

Tokyo prosecutors on Monday indicted former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn over a fresh charge of misusing company funds paid to a distributor in Oman, yet another setback for the once-celebrated auto tycoon who maintains he is innocent of all allegations.

Ghosn was arrested for the fourth time on April 4 over an allegation of aggravated breach of trust after some of the payment to the distributor was said to have been channelled for his personal use, causing the automaker to sustain a $5 million loss, reports Kyodo News Agency.

The re-arrest came less than a month after he was released on bail following 108 days in detention.

Ghosn's defence team has said they will request his release on bail. Monday marked the last day of his detention period approved by the Tokyo District Court, with prosecutors required to decide whether to indict or release him by that day.

The latest indictment came as the 65-year-old is already preparing to defend himself from charges that he violated the financial instruments law by underreporting his remuneration by $8 million in Nissan's securities reports presented to Japanese regulators over the eight years through March last year.

Ghosn, who holds Brazilian, French and Lebanese nationality, has also been indicted for a separate aggravated breach of trust in relation to the alleged transfer of private investment losses to Nissan's books in 2008 and for paying $14.7 million in company funds to a Saudi businessman who extended credit to him.

According to informed sources, the most recent arrest warrant for Ghosn was served over an allegation that the Omani distributor received $15 million between December 2015 and July 2018 from Nissan and transferred $5 million of this to a savings account at a Lebanese investment firm that Ghosn effectively owns.

The sources added that it is alleged part of the transferred money was then channelled to his wife's company.

Some of the money may have gone towards the purchase of a luxury yacht worth 1.6 billion yen ($14 million) mainly for use by the family.

Ghosn, who says he dedicated two decades of his life to reviving the Japanese automaker from the brink of bankruptcy, was removed from chairmanship posts at Nissan and its partners Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. after his initial arrest last November. He has also been replaced as CEO of Renault.