TOKYO – Carlos Ghosn was indicted on Monday on charges that he misappropriated Nissan Motor Co. funds, clearing the way for him to seek release on bail.
Tokyo prosecutors arrested the former Nissan and Renault SA chairman on April 4 – his fourth arrest since Nov. 19.
In the latest set of charges, prosecutors allege that between 2017-2018, Ghosn arranged for a company he controlled to receive a portion of money sent by Nissan to its overseas distributor, the Kyodo news agency said. Of a total of $10 million sent by Nissan during this period, prosecutors allege Ghosn received $5 million, Kyodo said.
Prosecutors haven’t named the distributor, but Ghosn’s legal team has identified it as Oman-based Suhail Bahwan Automobiles. Nissan has investigated whether the Omani company helped Ghosn obtain a yacht and whether it helped fund an investment company partly owned by Ghosn’s son, people familiar with the investigation have said.
Ghosn says he is innocent of all the allegations he faces.
Previously, Ghosn was charged with misstating deferred compensation on Nissan’s annual financial statements submitted to regulators and funneling Nissan money to the business of a Saudi friend who helped him with a personal financial problem.
Ghosn has said he only had hypothetical discussions about future compensation. He has said Nissan paid the Saudi company for “critical services that substantially benefited Nissan.”
A Tokyo court had authorized Ghosn’s detention without possibility of bail through Monday. By indicting him, prosecutors can keep him behind bars for the moment, but Ghosn can seek release on bail. In the absence of an indictment, Ghosn would have automatically been released.
His lawyers say Ghosn isn’t a flight risk, and they say the terms of his previous release on bail, including a ban on computer use outside his lawyer’s office, ensured that he couldn’t destroy evidence. Ghosn had been out on bail of nearly $9 million for about a month before his latest arrest.
After that arrest, Ghosn was interrogated for 62 hours over a 15-day period, according to a blog post by one of his lawyers, Takashi Takano. As is typical in Japan, the interrogation occurred without the presence of Ghosn’s lawyers. Takano said the legal team filed a complaint with prosecutors because Ghosn was forced to sit through interrogation sessions, often two or three times a day, despite making clear that he intended to remain silent.
Critics of Japan’s judicial system, including Ghosn’s legal team, say prosecutors use these tactics to force a confession out of suspects. Japanese authorities say Ghosn is receiving normal treatment and the goal of the interrogation is to find out the facts, not to compel a confession.
Should Ghosn fail to receive bail, he faces a potentially long period of solitary confinement. Japan has a 10-day holiday starting Saturday surrounding the May 1 enthronement of a new emperor. Detainees are permitted 30 minutes outdoors on weekdays but generally not when the jail is on weekend or holiday staffing.
During a previous period of confinement during Japan’s New Year holidays, Ghosn was unable to leave his cell for six days, his wife, Carole, said in an interview.
Ghosn’s lawyers have said a long period of confinement risks worsening a kidney condition that requires daily exercise to manage.