Carlos Ghosn has been arrested for a fourth time in Japan on new charges of financial wrongdoing. He is the former chief of carmakers Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault.
Government lawyers say Ghosn was arrested at his home in Tokyo Thursday. He is accused of sending $5 million dollars that was meant for a car dealer in Oman to a company he controlled.
The 65-year-old former business leader was first arrested in November. At the time, he was charged with under-reporting his pay over nearly 10 years by $82 million. He was arrested twice in December on other charges, including transferring $16 million of his personal investment losses to the Japanese carmaker.
If found guilty, he faces a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
Ghosn released a statement Thursday denouncing his arrest as an attempt by people at Nissan to silence him.
He said that, if tried fairly, he would be found innocent.
Ghosn was released early last month after paying $9 million to ensure that he would appear for trial. He announced on Twitter Wednesday that he planned to tell the truth about the charges against him in a press conference planned for April 11.
The businessman has spent about three months in jail waiting for his trial. The case has brought international attention to Japan’s justice system. Observers have criticized methods used by Japan’s government, and what some consider limited rights of people accused of crimes.
Shin Kukimoto is deputy chief prosecutor at the Tokyo District Prosecutor’s office. He spoke to reporters about the case Thursday. Kukimoto said the new charges are different from those presented in January. At that time, government lawyers said Ghosn caused damage to Nissan to benefit himself and a business partner. In the latest charges, Kukimoto said, it was “for his own personal benefit.”
The French government also is investigating Ghosn’s financial activities at Renault SA, Nissan’s industry partner. Ghosn was chairman and chief executive officer – or, CEO – of Renault until his arrest last year.
Renault is France’s largest carmaker. The French government has been watching the case closely.
Lawyer calls detention ‘hostage justice’
Ghosn’s lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, strongly criticized the government’s methods. Speaking about the renewed detention, he said, “I feel this is hostage justice.”
He added that Ghosn had prepared a video statement if he is unable to leave detention by April 11.
Nissan has held its own investigation into Ghosn’s activities. The company also faces some of the charges.
Ghosn is widely credited for helping Nissan avoid financial failure and become one of the world’s most popular carmakers. Last year, he signed a contract to continue at the company until 2022.
However, Ghosn’s high personal pay has been very unusual for a Japanese company official. It has raised suspicion in recent years.
Ghosn became chairman and CEO of both Renault and Nissan in 2005. In 2016, he also became head of Mitsubishi Motors, another one of Japan’s large carmakers.
Ghosn was born in Brazil and holds citizenship of both Brazil and France.
I’m Mario Ritter Jr.
Mario Ritter Jr. adapted this story for VOA Learning English from VOA and AP reports. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.
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Words in This Story
benefit –v. to provide something useful or helpful or wanted by someone
prosecutor - n. a lawyer who represents the side in a court case that accuses a person of a crime and who tries to prove that the person is guilty