Key dates in ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn's case

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn on November 8, 2018.
Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn on November 8, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Here are some key dates since former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was arrested out of the blue last November, stunning Japan and the business world.

- Nov 19, 2018: Arrest - Investigators from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office arrest Ghosn after his private jet touches down at Haneda Airport.

His right-hand man and close aide Greg Kelly is also arrested.

Accused of financial misconduct, including under-reporting Ghosn's salary between 2010 and 2015, they are detained for investigation for a period that is extended twice to Dec 10.

Both deny wrongdoing.

Prosecutors raid Nissan's headquarters in Yokohama and Ghosn's luxury Tokyo apartment.

That evening, Nissan chief executive officer Hiroto Saikawa says the company had uncovered years of financial misconduct, including under-reporting of income and inappropriate personal use of company assets.

 

"Too much authority was given to one person in terms of governance," he tells reporters, referring to "a dark side of the Ghosn era".

- Nov 20: Renault names interim boss - After an emergency board meeting, French car giant Renault says Thierry Bollore will take over with Ghosn "temporarily incapacitated" following his arrest.

Bollore, previously the chief operating officer, is appointed deputy CEO with the "same powers" as Ghosn.

Days later, Renault launches an internal audit into Ghosn's pay.

- Nov 22: Fired by Nissan - Nissan's board votes unanimously to "discharge" Ghosn as chairman.

In Paris, the French and Japanese finance ministers, Bruno Le Maire and Hiroshige Seko, reiterate "strong support" for maintaining the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.

- Nov 26: Fired by Mitsubishi - Mitsubishi Motors executives, meeting in Tokyo, vote unanimously to oust Ghosn as chairman.

- Nov 29: Alliance affirms unity - Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors reaffirm their commitment to their alliance in the first meeting of company leaders since Ghosn's arrest.

Ghosn had been seen as the glue binding together the complex three-way structure that makes up the world's top-selling auto company.

- Dec 10: Charges and re-arrest - Ghosn is formally charged on the initial allegations of under-reporting his salary between 2010 and 2015, with prosecutors also re-arresting him on allegations of further under-reporting in the last three years.

- Dec 21: New allegations - Prosecutors re-arrest Ghosn over fresh allegations that he transferred losses from personal financial investments to Nissan, apparently dashing his hopes of early release.

His detention is subsequently prolonged twice until Jan 11, 2019.

Kelly wins bail on Dec 25, 2018, on the condition he stays in Japan.

- Jan 8, 2019: First public appearance since arrest - Ghosn attends a hearing at the Tokyo District Court. He says in a statement he has been "wrongly accused and unfairly detained".

But the judge says the ongoing detention is justified because he poses a flight risk and could tamper with evidence.

His lawyer says it could be six months before a trial and he is likely to stay in prison during that time.

The next day the court rejects another bid to end the detention.

- Jan 11: New charges - Prosecutors file two new formal charges of financial misconduct against Ghosn, meaning he sits in pre-trial detention.

- Jan 15: Bail denied - The court denies Ghosn's bail request, dashing his hopes of immediate release.

- Jan 18: Nissan allegations - Nissan presents more results from its ongoing probe, saying Ghosn pocketed eight million euros (S$12.3 million) in "improper" pay from a Netherlands-based joint venture. The firm threatens to sue to recover the funds.

- Jan 21: Personal appeal - Ghosn issues a personal appeal to the court, vowing he would not seek to leave Japan before a trial and offering to wear an electronic tagging bracelet.

- Jan 22: Bail denied again.

- Jan 31: Ghosn speaks from jail - Ghosn speaks to Agence France-Presse from his prison cell, saying that his ongoing detention would "not be normal in any other democracy" and calling the Nissan probe "a story of betrayal".

- Feb 13: Legal shake-up - In a surprise move, Ghosn shakes up his legal team, replacing former prosecutor Motonari Otsuru with Junichiro Hironaka, a hotshot defence lawyer known as the "razor" for his mental sharpness.

- March 5: Court approves a third bail request filed by the new legal team. It is set at one billion yen (S$12.1 million).

The court rejects an appeal by prosecutors against the bail decision, in a move that paves the way for Ghosn's release.

Ghosn says in a statement he is innocent and will "strongly" defend himself against "unfounded" charges.

- March 6: Release from detention centre - In front of the world's media, Ghosn walks out of the detention centre wearing a medical face mask and what appears to be a workman's outfit.