Ex-Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn faces new under-reporting charge worth $48m

Japan had long celebrated Carlos Ghosn as a charismatic business leader who saved Nissan from the brink of failure and rebuilt it as a money-making subsidiary of Renault.
Japan had long celebrated Carlos Ghosn as a charismatic business leader who saved Nissan from the brink of failure and rebuilt it as a money-making subsidiary of Renault.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP) - Ousted Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn will face a further accusation of under-reporting his salary by about four billion yen (S$48 million) over the last three years, Japanese media reported on Wednesday (Dec 5).

Tokyo prosecutors plan to "re-arrest" the business tycoon along with his right-hand man and former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly by next Monday, according to major media including the Nikkei and the Mainichi newspapers.

If confirmed, the new allegation would come on top of an existing accusation that the pair conspired to understate Mr Ghosn's pay by some five billion yen in official filings during the five years up to March 2015.

Japanese prosecutors declined to comment on the reports regarding the duo, who were arrested on Nov 19 and remain in custody.

In Japan, a suspect can be kept in custody and "re-arrested" several times on different allegations, a system that has sparked some criticism in the international media.

They have yet to be officially charged with any crime and deny the allegations, reportedly insisting they had checked with the authorities about the way they declared the money.

In a move that stunned the business world, Mr Ghosn was arrested at a Tokyo airport on Nov 19 on suspicion of under-declaring his income.

 
 
 

The authorities then had 22 days to question him over these suspicions. That period runs out next Monday, meaning they are likely to re-arrest him over the new allegations, giving them a further 22 days to interrogate the tycoon.

He is, therefore, likely to remain in detention until early next year at least.

Japan had long celebrated Mr Ghosn as a charismatic business leader who saved Nissan from the brink of failure and rebuilt it as a money-making subsidiary of Renault.

But since his unexpected arrest, he has been removed from the boards of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors - the third company in the alliance that outsold all its rivals last year.

Nissan has begun a process of choosing Mr Ghosn's successor, with the final decision expected on Dec 17.