Ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn speaks out after his backing

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By Paul A. Eisenstein

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo on Thursday for the fourth time, accused of redirecting millions of automaker's dollars to a company he controlled.

But the recent move of Japanese prosecutors, who came less than a month after the Brazilian-born leader was released from Tokyo International Center after nearly four months of isolation, has raised new concerns about both the basics of allegations and wider concerns about the Japanese legal system.

"My arrest tomorrow is outrageous and arbitrary," said Ghosn, just one day after he had tweeted that he was "ready to tell the truth of what is happening."

"It is part of another attempt by some individuals in Nissan to put me by misleading the accusations. Why arrest me except to try to destroy me? I will not be destroyed. I am innocent of the unfounded charges and charges against me. "

The 65-year-old Ghosn was arrested along with colleague Greg Kelly on November 1[ads1]9, shortly after landing at Tokyo's Haneda Airport. Ghosn was first accused of hiding millions of revenue revenues, with Kelly allegedly assisting in the scheme. Under Japanese law, a defendant can be held for over 10 days, but prosecutors found many ways to extend Ghosn's original stay, including arresting him and smoothing extra charges.

The case originated from which Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa said was a report of a "whistleblower" who raised concerns about Ghos's wages and expenses. At this point, the executive states not only accused more than $ 80 million of income but also to divert the company's funds for personal use. While most of the accusations date back to his years at Nissan, where he previously served as chief executive, allegations of misuse of funds have also been linked to his wider role with the umbrella group, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

In February, Ghosn agreed to repay the French vending machine 50,000 euros, or about 57,000 dollars, for the costs associated with a sumptuous, Marie-Antoinette-themed wedding party in the Versailles palace in France.

Thursday's arrest comes as prosecutors accused Ghosn of diverting $ 5 million in Nissan funds to be sent to a foreign dealer to a company Ghosn controls.

"We now have a completely different case, and we just do what we think is right," said Shin Kukimoto, deputy lawyer at the Tokyo District Prosecutor Office, in a meeting with journalists on Thursday.

The new claims seem to stem from what Nissan has described as an "ongoing" investigation of potential economic inaccurate ethics. But that project itself has proven to be very controversial. In January, Carlos Munoz, the former head of Nissan's North American business, made a dispute over the effort. Toshiyuki Shiga, a former Nissan operator, who continued to profit from the Nissan Board, also gave his resignation, private concerns over the handling of the Ghosn case.

"Millions of dollars cannot be spread by two people," a Nissan Executive and Ghosn Associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told NBC News.

The same source noted that it is a routine process in the Japanese business world for executives to receive comprehensive benefits, including access to housing, country clubs, and private jets, which are not officially reported as compensation. If pressured, such cases can be considered illegal, he added, but would be treated as a civilian, rather than criminal, offense. To prosecute a senior manager for such matters, he emphasized, "is unmatched in Japan."

Automotive insiders have questioned why Japan's second largest automaker attempted to make the case initially. There is widespread consensus that it reflects a desire by Nissan to push back against the dominance Renault has over the three-producer alliance. After saving then almost bankrupt Nissan in 1999, the French machine has taken a 43.4 percent stake in its Japanese partner. In turn, it can appoint board members and senior employees unilaterally.

Saikawa recently expressed its desire to move some of this power balance. He is also opposed to Renault's desire to move beyond an alliance where all three companies retain their independence. He has become a fire, and many observers asked how a CEO – and members of the Nissan Board – would not have accepted, at least tacitly, Ghosn's extra wages and expenses.

At the same time, the Japanese justice system has also come under fire, including from human rights groups such as the question of how it achieves a conviction rate of more than 90 percent.

In Ghosn's case, the practice was initially kept in isolation and subject to daily interrogation without a lawyer. Prosecutors regularly demanded that he write a confession written in Japanese, a language he does not understand.

In February, Ghosn shook his team after several attempts to win the citizen. Current lawyer Junichiro Hironaka, known for his ability to beat the system and win acquaintances, a month ago condemned what he called "gay justice" under a look at the Foreign Correspondents & # 39; Club of Japan. "This goes against what is defined in the law. This should never be allowed," he said of the Ghosn case.

Many observers believe that prosecutors and Nissan could look to push the former Nissan boss in the hope of summarizing a complaint deal that will see him earning time in detention and recognizing something wrong. It would avoid a very public test that could reveal whether his behavior was more "norm" than "exception" and routinely part of the Japanese approach to big business.

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