TOKYO >> Japanese prosecutors said Monday they have indicted Nissan’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn with additional charges of breach of trust, with his alleged misconduct expanding outside Japan.
The indictment was followed by a request from Ghosn’s lawyers for his release on bail, the Tokyo District Court said.
The charges filed Monday are his fourth. They are related to payments by a subsidiary of the Japanese automaker that allegedly went to a private investment company controlled by Ghosn.
The indictment was expected and it ensures he will remain in detention longer. Ghosn’s current period of detention would have expired Monday if he had not been charged.
The Tokyo District Prosecutors’ Office said in a statement that Ghosn caused $5 million in financial damage to Nissan by siphoning off half of $10 million that he had a Nissan subsidiary transfer to an overseas sales agent for the automaker in 2017 and 2018.
It alleges that Ghosn diverted $2.5 million in July 2017 and another $2.5 million a year later from the sales agent to his private investment company for his personal benefit.
Nissan Motor Co. said Monday in a statement that it had filed a criminal complaint against Ghosn related to the indictment. It said it had determined that the payments in question “were in fact directed by Ghosn for his personal enrichment and were not necessary from a business standpoint.”
“Such misconduct is completely unacceptable, and Nissan is requesting appropriately strict penalties,” it said.
Ghosn, 65, was arrested in November. He says he is innocent of all financial misconduct charges against him.
Prosecutors re-arrested Ghosn in early April, a month after he was released on 1 billion yen ($9 million) bail pending his trial. He is being held at the Tokyo Detention House for questioning about the latest set of charges against him.
Ghosn has said that payments prosecutors say amounted to breach of trust were legitimate business transactions. He also contends that the charge that he underreported compensation involves payments that were never paid or decided.
Rearrests of a suspect released on bail, allowed only after indictment, are unusual. The handling of Ghosn’s case has triggered criticism of Japan’s criminal justice system, where lengthy detentions of suspects during investigations are routine.
Nissan’s French alliance partner Renault SA sent Ghosn, a citizen of Brazil, France and Lebanon, to the Japanese automaker to turn it around when it was on the brink of bankruptcy 20 years ago. Nissan is 43% owned by Renault, which is partly owned by the French government.
In a video statement released this month after his arrest, Ghosn accused some Nissan executives of plotting against him out of fears that Renault would take over the Japanese car maker.