In Depth

Who is Carlos Ghosn and why has he been rearrested in Japan?

Former Nissan chief faces further scrutiny over alleged financial misconduct

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has been rearrested in Japan, eliminating any hopes of him being released before Christmas. 

Ghosn, who has been detained since mid-November over financial misconduct allegations, was due to be released on bail after a court in Tokyo “rejected a request by the prosecution to extend his detention”, says the BBC.

He allegedly under-reported ten billion yen (£69m) as five billion yen (£34.5m) between 2011 and 2016.

On Friday morning, however, the Brazilian-born businessman was rearrested over suspicions that he “had used Nissan to cover personal trading losses”, The Sunday Times reports. 

The arrest concerns payments Ghosn carried out in 2008, where he supposedly “transferred 1.85 billion yen (£13.1m) of trading losses from a personal asset management company to Nissan”, the newspaper says. 

“The accused was responsible for managing Nissan’s overall operations and for dutifully fulfilling his role as CEO not to cause damage to Nissan and its subsidiaries,” said Japanese prosecutors. “But he took action that betrayed his role and caused financial damage to Nissan.”

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance had stripped Ghosn of his chairman roles at Nissan and Mitsubishi after his arrest in November, though he still remains chairman and chief executive of Renault, according to Autocar

If found guilty, he faces up to ten years in prison and a fine up to £4.9m, the motoring magazine says.

Speaking to Japanese broadcaster NHK, Ghosn said: “Things as they stand are absolutely unacceptable. I want to have my position heard and restore my honour in court.” 

Who is Carlos Ghosn?

Ghosn is a “towering figure” in the car industry, one who has helped turn Nissan, along with its partners Renault and Mitsubishi, into one of the biggest motoring organisations in the world, says the BBC’s business correspondent Theo Leggett.

The businessman joined Renault in 1996 before being promoted to chief operations officer at Nissan in 1999, says Autocar. In 2001, he became Nissan’s chief executive officer. He was a pivotal figure in steering the company away from near-certain bankruptcy. 

Ghosn stepped down from his position as Nissan CEO in February 2017, but he was still a key figure in the operations of all three manufacturers until his arrest. 

Why was he arrested in November?

 On 19 November, Tokyo-based news outlets were reporting that Ghosn had been taken into custody in the Japanese capital on suspicion of under-reporting his salary.

This was swiftly followed by an official announcement from Nissan, which confirmed that it was investigating both Ghosn and Greg Kelly, its representative director, after a whistleblower uncovered “significant acts of misconduct”.

The firm’s investigation claimed that both Ghosn and Kelly had been quoting compensation amounts in the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report that were “less than the actual amount” in order to reduce the disclosed amount of Ghosn’s payment.

Ghosn’s pay at the Japanese firm has faced intense scrutiny after he was named the best-paid executive in Japan, a country where executives earn less than those in similar roles in other countries, says the Financial Times.

His annual income at Nissan peaked at 1.1 billion yen (£7.6m) in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, according to the FT, while he received 735 million yen (£5m) this year

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