Carlos Ghosn claims innocence in first public appearance since arrest

Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn made his first public appearance in a Tokyo courtroom on Tuesday, since his arrest in November.

Ghosn declared his innocence, telling the court that he was wrongly accused of financial misconduct.

"I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations," Ghosn told the Tokyo District Court, according to Reuters.

“Contrary to the accusations made by the prosecutors, I never received any compensation from Nissan that was not disclosed, nor did I ever enter into any binding contract with Nissan to be paid a fixed amount that was not disclosed," Ghosn said.

This courtroom sketch depicts former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn in a courtroom at the Tokyo District Court in Tokyo Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. Ghosn, denied any wrongdoing and proclaimed his loyalty to the company at a court hearing in Tokyo on Tuesday

The court hearing, requested by Ghosn's lawyers, was held to explain the reasons for his prolonged detention.

Presiding Judge Yuichi Tada said the detention was due to flight risk and possibility he could conceal evidence.

Ghosn reportedly used the opportunity to deny accusations against him, a move that defense lawyer Masashi Akita said could prove risky if prosecutors use it to build their case.

The 64-year-old executive has been formally charged with under-reporting his income.

He has also been arrested, but not yet indicted, on allegations of aggravated breach of trust in shifting personal investment losses worth $17 million to the carmaker.

Regarding allegations that he transferred losses to Nissan, Ghosn said he had asked the company to temporarily take on collateral for his foreign exchange contracts. He said he did this to avoid the only other choice he had, which was to resign and use his retirement allowance for collateral.


Ghosn said the contracts were transferred back to him and that Nissan did not incur any loss.

Ghosn is also accused of making $14.7 million in payments to Saudi businessman Khaled Al-Juffali using Nissan funds in exchange for arranging a letter of credit to help with his investment losses.

This courtroom sketch depicts former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn in a courtroom at the Tokyo District Court in Tokyo Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. Ghosn appeared in court on Tuesday and asserted his innocence while demanding the reason for his prolonged de

Ghosn said that Juffali's company was compensated for "critical services that substantially benefited Nissan," including soliciting financing and resolving a business dispute.

The Khaled Juffali Company also issued a statement on Tuesday saying it had received the payments for legitimate business purposes.

Nissan, which has ousted Ghosn as chairman, reiterated that its internal investigation prompted by a whistleblower had uncovered "substantial and convincing evidence of misconduct" and that its investigation was ongoing and expanding in scope.

Ghosn is expected to remain in detention through his trial.