Ousted Nisaan Boss Ghosn makes first court appearance since Nov arrest

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has maintained his innocence in his first court appearance since his shock arrest in Japan last year.

He has been in custody since November and faces allegations of financial misconduct.

In a prepared statement, Ghosn said he had been “wrongly accused and unfairly detained”.

His lawyers requested the court hearing to address the reasons for his lengthy detention.

Japanese prosecutors have charged Ghosn with financial misconduct and accuse him of under-reporting his pay package.

Ghosn, a towering figure of the auto industry, appeared at the Tokyo District court wearing a dark suit and looking visibly thinner.

“I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations,” his prepared statement read.

The 64-year-old said he never received any compensation from Nissan that was not disclosed.

Ghosn said he had “never been accused of any wrongdoing,” and had dedicated two decades to “reviving Nissan”.

His initial arrest nearly two months ago shocked the industry and his lengthy detention has drawn some criticism.

But a judge in the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday said Mr Ghosn’s detention was justified as he posed a flight risk and due to the risk of evidence tampering, according to reports.

Ghosn, who was arrested first on Nov. 19, has been re-arrested twice on different charges since then, a tactic often used by Japanese prosecutors to keep suspects in detention.

He has been held at the Tokyo Detention Center, a spartan facility where small rooms have a toilet in the corner and no heater – a far cry from the jet-setting lifestyle Ghosn was accustomed to. His son, Anthony Ghosn, said his father had lost 10 kgs (22 pounds) during his detention, according to France’s weekly Journal du Dimanche.

Under Japanese law, suspects can be detained without charges for up to 23 days, and then re-arrested on separate allegations.

Ghosn has been formally charged with under-reporting his income. On Dec. 21, he was re-arrested, but not indicted, on allegations of aggravated breach of trust. In the latter, Ghosn is accused of transferring personal investment losses worth 1.85 billion yen ($17 million) to the carmaker.

On Dec. 31, the Tokyo District Court granted prosecutors’ request to extend Ghosn’s detention by 10 days until Jan. 11.

Nissan, which has ousted Ghosn from its board, has said a whistleblower investigation also uncovered personal use of company funds and other misconduct.

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