Ghosn slapped with fresh charge

Top News | Agence France-Presse 23 Apr 2019

Japanese authorities yesterday hit Carlos Ghosn with a fresh charge of aggravated breach of trust, the fourth indictment against the former Nissan boss who promptly filed for bail.

Experts say yesterday's charge is the most serious yet leveled against the auto sector legend, whose rollercoaster case has gripped Japan and the business world since his dramatic arrest in November over alleged financial misconduct.

According to a statement from the Tokyo's prosecutors' office, Ghosn is accused of funneling millions of dollars in Nissan funds to a dealership in the Middle East and syphoning off around five million dollars for personal use.

The transfers were made "with the purpose of benefiting himself by receiving part of the money," prosecutors charged.

Shin Kukimoto from the Tokyo prosecutors' office told reporters they had "enough evidence for guilty verdicts."

However, the 65-year-old strenuously denies all allegations against him and insists they have been cooked up in a "plot" by Nissan executives wary of his plans to bring the Japanese car giant closer to its French partner Renault.

Ghosn's lead lawyer Junichiro Hironaka filed for bail just hours after the charge and said he was confident his client would be released as he prepared to fight the allegations. "In order to prove his innocence at a trial as soon as possible, we want [the court] to approve our bail request so that we can prepare a good defense," Hironaka told reporters.

Ghosn has already won bail once before - but under strict conditions such as agreeing not to leave the country and living under surveillance.

When he last won bail, Ghosn walked out of the detention center in front of the world's media dressed like a Japanese laborer with a cap and mask in an apparent attempt to give reporters the slip.

He also had to stump up 1 billion yen (HK$70 million) for bail but Hironaka said they were prepared to produce more cash if necessary to secure his release.

Yesterday was the end of the maximum period authorities had to question Ghosn, who is now technically in pre-trial detention.

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