Japan prosecutors file new allegation against Nissan's Ghosn

Carlos Ghosn

Japanese prosecutors rearrested Nissan Motor's former chair Carlos Ghosn on fresh, more serious allegations of financial misconduct, dealing a blow to the auto titan's efforts to end his month-long stay in jail and seek bail.

Speculation had been building that he could be released on bail as early as Friday after a court unexpectedly rejected a prosecution request to extend his detention for a further 10 days in connection with a previous charge.

The new charges allege Ghosn transferred losses exceeding $16 million from his own private investments onto the books of Nissan between 2008 and 2012, thus inflicting financial damage on the automaker, Bloomberg reported Friday.

Ghosn and another former Nissan executive, Greg Kelly, were arrested November 19 and charged with underreporting Ghosn's income by about 5 billion yen ($44 million) in 2011-2015. It said it had also decided against extending detention for Greg Kelly, a former Nissan executive who was arrested along with Ghosn on November 19.

A secret guard stands near step ladders of journalists outside Tokyo Detention Center, where former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn and another former executive Greg Kelly, are being detained. It's rumored senior Nissan executives were against Ghosn's push for a full merger of Nissan with Renault.

In the Japanese system, it is extremely rare for the court to grant bail to someone who denies the allegations as Ghosn does, and the decision took observers by surprise.

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Much of the case had thus far seemed to revolve around Ghosn deferring pay from Nissan until his retirement, compensation that was allegedly not reported by the carmaker. The conviction rate in Japan is more than 99%.

The new allegations, as a violation of of Japan's Companies Act, are considered more serious with a maximum prison sentence of up to 10 years and a $90,000 fine.

Renault in 1999 sent Ghosn to turn around Nissan, then on the verge of bankruptcy, and he led its rise to the world's second-largest automaker.

Nissan, which removed him as its chairman shortly after it made public the findings of its own investigation, claims he also misused company funds.

Kelly's wife, Donna Kelly, said in a video message carried by TV Asahi and other networks that her husband was "wrongly accused as part of a power grab" at Nissan.

There was no immediate word on Greg Kelly, who was arrested at the same time over his alleged role in masterminding the whole crime. "I think this case has a big impact and effect on the Japanese justice practice, and such a move is favorable for the defense side". A request for bail by Kelly's lawyer is pending court approval, according to the Tokyo District Court, but his release will have to wait until next week since the request was still in process after office hours Friday.

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