Ex-Nissan boss Ghosn says he is victim of 'backstabbing' plot

Carlos Ghosn accuses Nissan executives of conspiracy, and says in video he is 'innocent of all the charges'.

    Ex-Nissan boss Ghosn says he is victim of 'backstabbing' plot
    Carlos Ghosn recorded the video statement before he was rearrested and taken into custody [Issei Kato/Reuters]

    Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has claimed his innocence and accuses his former colleagues of "backstabbing" and conspiring, as he addressed the public for the first time since his initial arrest over financial misconduct last year.

    In a pre-recorded video message released on Tuesday, Ghosn repeated that he was "innocent of all the charges that have been brought" against him.

    Prosecutors rearrested Ghosn last week on fresh allegations that he used company funds to enrich himself to the tune of $5m. 

    The 65-year-old had been out on $9m bail for 30 days, during which he recorded the video screened by his lawyers at a press conference on Tuesday.

    "This is a conspiracy ... this is not about greed or dictatorship, this is about a plot, this about a conspiracy, this is about a backstabbing," said Ghosn, wearing a dark jacket and a white shirt.

    Ghosn did not name specific individuals at Nissan, with his lawyer saying that the defence team had opted to cut parts of the recording that pointed the finger at particular figures.

    The conspiracy, he said, was borne out of concern that he would bring Nissan, Japan's second-largest carmaker, closer to its alliance partner, top shareholder Renault SA.

    "There was fear that the next step of the alliance in terms of convergence and in terms of moving towards a merger, would in a certain way threaten some people or eventually threaten the autonomy of Nissan," he said.

    The video comes a day after shareholders of Nissan Motor Corporation voted Ghosn out as a director at an emergency meeting, severing his last ties with the company. He was removed as chairman in November following his arrest. 

    Fresh allegations

    On Friday, the Tokyo District Court approved Ghosn's detention until April 14 after prosecutors took him into custody over a new allegation that he was responsible for Nissan sustaining a $5m loss.

    Prosecutors said Ghosn had been arrested over transfers of Nissan funds totalling $15m between late 2015 and the middle of 2018 to a dealership in Oman.

    They suspect around $5m of these funds were syphoned off for Ghosn's use, including for the purchase of a luxury yacht and financing personal investments.

    Prosecutors accuse Ghosn of having "betrayed" his duty not to cause losses to Nissan "in order to benefit himself".

    Ghosn already faces three formal charges: two of deferring his salary and concealing that in official shareholders' documents, and a further charge of seeking to shift investment losses to the firm.

    Ghosn's case has defied expectations from the start, with his shock November 19 arrest after he landed in Tokyo on a private jet.

    He spent 108 days in a detention centre in northern Tokyo before being dramatically released on bail of around $9m on March 6, emerging from incarceration dressed in a workman's uniform and face mask in an apparent bid to avoid the media.

    He then lived in a court-appointed apartment in Tokyo without commenting on his situation despite huge international and Japanese media interest in his case. 

    However, just as reports began to surface that he could be rearrested, Ghosn emerged on Twitter to announce plans to hold a news conference on April 11.

    His rearrest came just days after news that Renault, which Ghosn also once headed, had handed French prosecutors documents showing suspicious transfers worth millions of euros authorised by the car industry tycoon.

    SOURCE: News agencies