TOKYO: Carlos Ghosn, the embattled former chairman of Nissan Motor Co, denied reports that he passed on personal trading losses to the carmaker, the first comment from the executive who is detained on numerous allegations of financial misdeeds.
Ghosn acknowledged consulting Nissan about the collateral related to the contract, but didn’t transfer the losses to the automaker, said Motonari Otsuru, a lawyer representing the former chairman. Otsuru, the former director of the same Tokyo prosecutors’ office department that is now investigating Ghosn, spoke to Bloomberg News after meeting with the jailed official.
The Asahi newspaper reported on Tuesday that Ghosn may have passed 1.7 billion yen (US$14.9mil) in personal investment losses relating to a derivatives contract on to the company in 2008.
While Ghosn is denying wrongdoing in this matter, the 64-year-old hasn’t commented publicly on a slew of other charges, including Nissan saying he misused company money for personal matters and understated income. Ghosn is beginning to make attempts to defend himself after his arrest on Nov 19 in Tokyo, after which the boards of Nissan and partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp sacked him as their chairman.
Since the detention, Japanese media have published details of the alleged violations on an almost daily basis.
Ghosn, who hasn’t made any public statements since he was detained, denies wrongdoing in connection with the allegations, broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday. The report didn’t specifically say what allegations he was denying.
Among the best-paid executives in both France and Japan, Ghosn stands accused of under-reporting his pay by about 8 billion yen (US$71mil) in the eight years through March, the Nikkei reported earlier.
He is suspected of breaking the Financial Instruments and Exchange Law, and the alleged offence may carry a sentence of as much as 10 years, Shin Kukimoto, deputy chief prosecutor at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, told reporters last week. The alleged offence, he declared, is even more serious than insider trading.
Nissan provided Ghosn with six houses, including residences in Tokyo and New York, a company official said earlier, asking not to be identified discussing private information. Media reports had earlier said Ghosn got company-funded properties in cities such as Beirut, Rio de Janeiro, Paris and Amsterdam.
Ghosn’s sister also had an advisory contract with Nissan, though the role had no substance, the official said. Media reports said she was paid about US$100,000 a year.
The arrest of Ghosn has had different reactions in Japan and France. While the boards of Nissan and Mitsubishi sacked Ghosn as their chairman, Renault SA refused to oust him as the chief executive officer and instead named an interim leader. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told LCI Television that he is still waiting for proof. — Bloomberg