Carlos Ghosn claims he has been 'wrongly accused'

Jose Munoz Chairman of Nissan North America speaks during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit

Carlos Ghosn claims he has been 'wrongly accused'

Ghosn, wearing a navy blue suit and white shirt, entered the court in handcuffs and a rope tied around his waist.

Ghosn has been held at the Tokyo Detention Center, a spartan facility where small rooms have a toilet in the corner and no heater - a far cry from the jet-setting lifestyle Ghosn was accustomed to.

The weeks following his arrest saw the stunning downfall of one of the most recognisable executives in the global automotive world as allegations grew in Japan that he had misused corporate funds.

Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan, while Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault.

In his defense, the disgraced executive offered a two-pronged response to the allegations.

The hearing was requested by Ghosn himself, who told the court he had been "wrongly accused and unfairly detained".

"I worked toward these goals day and night, on the earth and in the air, standing shoulder to shoulder with hardworking Nissan employees around the globe, to create value", Ghosn said in his statement in English that lasted about 10 minutes.

"A captain doesn't jump ship during a storm", he told the court in a strong voice. For example, his retirement payments were reviewed by legal experts inside Nissan as well as independent lawyers, and showed no intention of breaking the law.

In a point-by-point rebuttal of the allegations, Ghosn told the court that he had could have left Nissan at one stage but that his "moral commitment" to the company would not allow that.

Nissan's Representative Director Greg Kelly, who was also arrested on November 19 and has been charged with conspiring to under-report Ghosn's income, was released on December 25 after posting bail of 70 million yen, or about $640,000, in cash. His business shoes had been replaced by plastic slippers. In fact, they did not request it when Ghosn was arrested on suspicion of understating his remuneration in the company's annual securities reports.

About 1,100 people lined up early in the morning to seek 14 available seats in the public gallery in the court. Accusations against him have layered up and his confinement has repeatedly been extended.

Although he had more gray hair and sunken cheeks compared with his appearance before his arrest, Ghosn, 64, looked poised.

Presiding Judge Yuichi Tada read out the charges against Ghosn and said he was being detained because he was a flight risk and there was a possibility he would hide evidence. "There's no chance that Ghosn's release will be ordered tomorrow".

Meanwhile, Ghosn's son Anthony painted a picture of a devoted family man for whom "money is only a way to help those he loves, not an end in itself".

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

"If and only if he were blocked lastingly would we draw conclusions".

Despite all demands to give Ghosn a fair shake, President Emmanuel Macron has been at odds with the executive and with Nissan since obtaining greater government control over Renault as economy minister a few years ago. "I am wrongfully accused". The company suffered no losses, he said.

When asked about speculation that Ghosn's detention and removal was part of a coup by forces within Nissan aimed at staving off a potential merger of the carmakers, Ghosn's lawyer Motonari Otsuru declined to comment.

A statement issued on behalf of Juffali's company, the first since the allegations emerged, said the compensation was for work done to benefit Nissan, including resolving a local business dispute and lobbying for the approval for a new plant in Saudi Arabia. He even named some of the people who reached out to him - Bill Ford at Ford Motor Co., and Steve Rattner, the Obama administration's vehicle czar at the time, who tapped Ghosn for a position at General Motors Co.

The disgraced executive said he turned them all down. "I want to hear what statements he will make", said Masataka Obinata, 67, a Nissan shareholder from Tokyo.

Prosecutors allege that Ghosn first transferred his position to Nissan and later shifted the investment back onto the books of his affiliated company, with Juffali providing a letter of credit to satisfy the bank.

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