TOKYO • Tokyo prosecutors plan to arrest Carlos Ghosn on a fresh claim of understating his income, the Sankei newspaper reported yesterday, in a move that could keep the former chairman of Nissan Motor in detention until the end of the year.
Mr Ghosn has been detained in Tokyo since his Nov 19 arrest on suspicion of conspiring with former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly to understate his compensation by about half of the actual 10 billion yen (S$121 million), over five years from 2010.
Tokyo authorities last Friday extended their detention until Dec 10, the furthest allowable, for the alleged crime.
Citing unnamed sources, the Sankei daily said prosecutors plan to arrest Mr Ghosn and Mr Kelly on Dec 10 for the same crime covering 2015 to 2017, when the suspects allegedly understated Mr Ghosn's income by about four billion yen.
If the authorities approve the maximum detention for that case, the two would remain in custody until Dec 30, Sankei said.
The Tokyo prosecutors' office declined to comment on the report.
Mr Ghosn has been unable to respond to the allegations, which public broadcaster NHK has said he has denied. Calls to Mr Ghosn's lawyer, Mr Motonari Otsuru, at his office went unanswered.
In Japan, crime suspects can be kept in custody for 10 days and that can be extended for another 10 days if a judge grants prosecutors' request for extension. At the end of that period, prosecutors must file a formal charge or let the suspect go.
However, they can also re-arrest suspects for a separate crime, in which case the process starts all over again. This process can be repeated, sometimes keeping suspects detained for months without formal charges and without bail.
Meanwhile, external board members of Nissan meeting yesterday failed to nominate a successor to Mr Ghosn, Kyodo News reported. The Japanese news agency did not cite its sources in reporting that the three members of the nine-member board had put off a decision on Mr Ghosn's replacement.
Nissan has tasked former trade and industry bureaucrat Masakazu Toyoda, retired Renault executive Jean-Baptiste Duzan and race car driver Keiko Ihara with the selection, which is to be submitted to the rest of the board at their next meeting on Dec 17.
Changes to the board must be approved by shareholders.
Nissan's choice to replace the arrested car titan is expected to be an indicator of the direction the Japanese carmaker's alliance with Renault will take.
The most likely successors fall on each end of the spectrum: chief executive officer Hiroto Saikawa, who has emerged as a driving force behind the investigation into Mr Ghosn's financial reporting, and Mr Toshiyuki Shiga, a former Ghosn confidant, people familiar with the situation have said.
The independent directors have already said they will choose an existing board member as the next chairman.
At stake is the direction of the world's biggest car alliance between Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors Corp, as differences surface among the companies that Mr Ghosn's leadership held together.