Bassil Asks Lebanese Ambassador to Assist Carlos Ghosnإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Caretaker Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil has instructed Lebanese Ambassador to Japan Nidal Yahia to “follow up on the case of Mr. Carlos Ghosn, the chairman of the “Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance,” after he was arrested for alleged financial misconduct, the National News Agency said.
NNA added that Bassil has asked the envoy to “meet him, inquire about his needs, verify the legality of the measures that have been taken, and ensure that he will be provided with legal assistance so that he can present the facts and evidence in his possession and have a real chance to defend himself.”
“Ghosn is an expat Lebanese citizen and represents one of the Lebanese successes abroad, and the Lebanese Foreign Ministry will stand by him in his crisis to ensure that he will get a fair trial,” the Ministry said in a statement.
Ghosn, 64, was born in Brazil of Lebanese descent, and educated at elite colleges in France, where he started in industry at tiremaker Michelin.
He has maintained his ties with Lebanon, where he has invested in a winery.
Ghosn made his name as a turnaround specialist before he was parachuted into Nissan from Renault in 1999, swinging the ax on costs to bring the troubled Japanese firm rapidly back to profit.
A globetrotting polyglot who shook up corporate culture in France and Japan, Ghosn could seemingly do no wrong until disquiet began to mount in recent years over his high renumeration.
Japanese prosecutors confirmed Tuesday that they were holding Ghosn after arresting him a day earlier on suspicion of systematically under-reporting his salary over five years.
Nissan said it had been investigating Ghosn and Representative Director Greg Kelly for months, after a report from a whistleblower.
CEO Hiroto Saikawa said the company had uncovered years of financial misconduct including under-reporting of income and inappropriate personal use of company assets.
There has been no word from Ghosn or his representatives on the charges and no official confirmation on where he is being held. Sources told AFP he was being held at a detention centre in the capital belonging to Tokyo prosecutors.
Under Japanese law, Ghosn can be held for up to 23 days before being charged.
Prosecutors confirmed Ghosn had conspired with Kelly to report income of 4.9 billion yen ($44.5 million) over five years when his actual income for that period had been nearly 10 billion yen.
Several executives at Nissan were reportedly involved in falsifying financial documents under instructions from Kelly but they have been cooperating with prosecutors in a plea bargain deal in return for lighter penalties.
Public broadcaster NHK reported board members received less compensation than financial statements showed, with Ghosn pocketing the difference.
Nissan also reportedly provided luxury residences to Ghosn in Brazil and Lebanon by making subsidiaries purchase the properties for billions of yen (tens of millions of dollars).
- Governments weigh in -
Japanese government officials scrambled to insist that the alliance of Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault that Ghosn oversaw would not be affected by his astonishing downfall.
And France, which holds a 15 percent stake in Renault, said it would stay "vigilant" on the stability of the alliance as well as the French automaker.
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said he had ordered an inquiry into Ghosn's tax affairs immediately after learning of his arrest in Japan but that it showed up "nothing in particular about his tax situation."