RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Japanese automaker Nissan is fighting a Brazil court order that allows the family of jailed former chairman Carlos Ghosn access to a luxury Rio de Janeiro apartment, saying it fears evidence could be destroyed.
The legal challenge, announced Sunday (Dec 9), is playing out as Ghosn on Monday was formally charged in Japan with financial misconduct for allegedly under-reporting his salary along with separate accusations.
The Rio apartment, located in an upmarket building with an ocean view on Copacabana Beach, is owned by Nissan but was used by Ghosn - who has Brazilian, French and Lebanese nationalities - when he was in Brazil, the country where he was born.
"He came here from time to time, the last time for New Year's last year," a cleaner for the building told AFP.
The rest of the time, the 800-square-metre apartment was not used, the male cleaner said.
Ghosn's family won a Brazilian court order last Thursday to "recover personal effects and documents" from the address after finding the locks had been changed on Nissan's orders, state news agency Agencia Brasil reported.
Nissan said in a statement Sunday it was appealing that decision to a higher court, citing "a high likelihood of evidence being removed or destroyed" if the relatives gained access.
The judge in the initial ruling, Marcelo Cyfer, said he had granted the order to the family because the allegations behind Ghosn's arrest in Japan "remain unclear" and were insufficient to presume that documents might be removed or covered up.
Ghosn, 64, was arrested Nov 19.
Japanese prosecutors on Monday pressed formal charges against him, including an allegation he under-reported his income by US$44 million (S$60 million) between 2010 and 2015.
Nissan also alleges its former chairman misused company assets, including the Copacabana Beach apartment.
Ghosn denies the accusations. He is being held in a Tokyo detention centre. If his case goes to trial and he is convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.