Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Former Nissan chief Ghosn 'names names' in recorded message

Embattled executive who is in custody again in Japan names people he believes are to blame for his legal problems, his wife Carole says as she returns to France

Carlos Ghosn's wife Carole (R) says he recorded a message revealing who he believes is behind his demise. Reuters
Carlos Ghosn's wife Carole (R) says he recorded a message revealing who he believes is behind his demise. Reuters

The wife of former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has left Japan for Paris to appeal to the French government to do more to help him, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

Mr Ghosn has recorded a message in which he names the people he believes are to blame for his legal problems in Japan, his wife Carole separately told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper in France.

Mrs Ghosn told the paper he had recorded a video interview in English before his detention, according to Agence France-Presse.

"He names the people responsible for what has happened to him. The lawyers have it. It will be released soon," she told the newspaper.

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Saturday he had raised the case during talks with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on the sidelines of the meeting of Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers in the French resort of Dinard.

Mr Le Drian said he had "reminded him of our attachment to the presumption of innocence and the full rights of consular protection".

Japanese prosecutors arrested Mr Ghosn for a fourth time on Thursday on suspicion he had tried to enrich himself at the car manufacturer's expense, in another dramatic twist that his lawyers said was an attempt to muzzle him, Reuters said.

"I think the French government should do more for him. I don't think he's had enough support and he's calling for assistance. As a French citizen, it should be a right", Carole Ghosn told the FT before boarding a flight out of Japan late on Friday.

She said her husband’s previous 108-day imprisonment had left him “a different person” and that normal life under bail conditions had been impossible.

“You could see the fear in his eyes," she was quoted as saying, as rumours of his rearrest spread last week, .

Mr Ghosn, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, has denied charges against him.

Tokyo prosecutors, Mr Ghosn's lawyer and his spokesperson were not immediately available for comment.

Public broadcaster NHK said on Sunday that prosecutors suspected Mr Ghosn siphoned off part of the payments through a company where his wife is an executive to purchase a yacht and a boat.

The prosecutors asked her to meet them for voluntary questioning as an unsworn witness, but the request was turned down, which prompted them to ask judges to question her on their behalf, the broadcaster said.

Such a request gives judges the power to question on a mandatory basis witnesses who refuse to testify, according to NHK.

Mr Ghosn's lead lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, said on Thursday prosecutors confiscated Mr Ghosn's mobile phone, documents, notebooks and diaries, along with his wife's passport and mobile phone.

Another of his lawyers outlined the conditions for his initial release on bail in an effort to clarify what he called incorrect speculation in the Japanese media.

Takashi Takano listed the conditions in a blog post late on Saturday, which include restricting Mr Ghosn to using only one computer, which is in his lawyer's office, and one mobile phone, according to the Associated Press. It is the first time such conditions, set by the Tokyo District Court, were disclosed in detail.

The FT, meanwhile, said prosecutors had confiscated Mrs Ghosn's Lebanese passport in a dawn raid on their apartment in central Tokyo on Thursday morning, but did not discover her US passport.

“I’m all alone here. It’s traumatising what happened,” she was quoted as saying while awaiting her flight. “If my husband is in detention and I’m here, I won’t be useful. I’m going to France and be more useful where I can be.”

Under Japanese law, prosecutors will be able to hold Mr Ghosn for up to 22 days without charging him. The fresh arrest opens up the possibility that he will be interrogated again without his lawyer present, as is the norm in Japan.

The additional charge would likely prolong Mr Ghosn's trial, which is expected to begin later this year, his lawyer has said, adding that loss of access to Mr Ghosn's trial-related documents could put his client at a disadvantage in fighting his case.

Mr Ghosn faces charges of financial misconduct and aggravated breach of trust over allegedly failing to report around $82 million in salary and temporarily transferring personal financial losses onto Nissan's books during the financial crisis.

Released on $9m bail on March 6, the executive denies all charges and says he is the victim of a boardroom coup.

The scandal has rocked the global car industry and shone a harsh light on Japan's judicial system.

Updated: April 7, 2019 02:58 PM