PARIS — French prosecutors issued an international arrest warrant on Friday for Carlos Ghosn, the previous chief government of Nissan and Renault who resides as a fugitive from the Japanese justice system, as a part of an investigation into alleged abuse of company belongings and cash laundering.
French authorities are keen on practically 15 million euros (about $16.2 million) in suspected funds made between the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi auto alliance and its automobile distributor in Oman, Suhail Bahwan Automobiles, or SBA. They say Mr. Ghosn abused his place as head of the world’s greatest carmaker to channel tens of millions of euros in Renault funds by way of the Omani operation for his private use, together with the acquisition of a 120-foot yacht.
In an interview late Friday with France’s BFM TV, Mr. Ghosn, showing feisty and defiant at his dwelling in Lebanon, denied the costs and mentioned he “must be presumed innocent.” He added that there was “absolutely no diversion of funds” and that each one cash paid to the Omani distributor had been “based on confirmed contracts.”
The arrest warrant was one in all 5 issued on Friday in opposition to Mr. Ghosn and present house owners or former managers of SBA, mentioned a spokesperson for the French public prosecutor’s workplace within the Paris suburb of Nanterre, which has been conducting the investigation.
Mr. Ghosn, a onetime titan of the automotive trade who holds French and Lebanese passports, has been residing as a fugitive in Lebanon since 2019, when he fled throughout the globe, touring a part of the journey hidden in a box, to flee what he referred to as “injustice and political persecution” in Japan. The authorities there had arrested him in late 2018 on costs of economic misconduct, together with underreporting his revenue to evade taxes whereas heading Nissan.
An inner evaluate by Nissan on the time discovered that from 2011 to 2018, Mr. Ghosn licensed over $30 million in discretionary funds to a enterprise accomplice in Oman. Mr. Ghosn’s representatives have insisted that the funds had been for enterprise functions solely.
Mr. Ghosn’s flight to Lebanon was strategic: The nation doesn’t have extradition treaties with Japan or France, which means the authorities don’t have to honor their arrest requests.
France has been conducting its personal investigation parallel to that in Japan, and prosecutors visited Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, twice previously 12 months to query Mr. Ghosn. He would want to journey to France to be formally indicted and to achieve entry to the small print of the costs made in opposition to him.
Mr. Ghosn, who has repeatedly mentioned his arrest was a part of a coup by Nissan to pressure him out, mentioned Friday that he was shocked to study of the French costs as a result of he had been cooperating with investigators He added that he “smelled something fishy” in regards to the timing of the arrest warrant, which was issued simply two days earlier than the French presidential election.
“There was not a penny from Renault or Nissan that was unjustly given to me, directly or indirectly,” he added.
Mr. Ghosn mentioned he was desirous to clear his identify and hoped to ultimately go to France to “demonstrate the truth” to judicial authorities. In the meantime, he mentioned, he’s educating at a college in Lebanon and has gotten concerned in serving to entrepreneurs with start-ups.
At the identical time, he mentioned, he spends a whole lot of time engaged on his authorized file in hopes of proving his innocence, and is writing a e book and collaborating within the filming of a film about his life “for the restoration of my reputation and especially the restoration of the truth.”
In addition to investigating Mr. Ghosn’s ties to the distributor in Oman, French prosecutors are inspecting a Dutch company entity that Mr. Ghosn led, Renault-Nissan B.V., which Japanese authorities have mentioned he used to finance further advantages for himself, together with buying a number of properties with Nissan cash and throwing a lavish wedding party for himself and his bride in 2016 at Versailles.
Last month, a Japanese courtroom convicted Mr. Ghosn’s American former deputy at Nissan, Greg Kelly, of serving to him conceal a part of his compensation from regulators.
A decide sentenced Mr. Kelly to 6 months in jail for his function in hiding Mr. Ghosn’s pay throughout one fiscal 12 months, however cleared him of involvement in related efforts throughout different durations spanning nearly a decade. The sentence was suspended for three years, permitting Mr. Kelly to stroll free.