Ex-Nissan chairman, 64, arrested over £60m fraud blames ‘plot and treason’

Ex-Nissan chairman, 64, arrested over £60m fraud blames ‘plot and treason’

In an interview with Nikkei Asian Review-his first since his November 19 arrest-Ghosn said he is certain the financial misconduct charges against him are the result of "plot and treason" by Nissan execs opposed to his plan for closer integration with alliance partners Renault and Mitsubishi Motors.

Ghosn acknowledged that "there was a plan to integrate" Renault SA, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Nissan and that he wanted "autonomy under one holding company".

It was the first press interview Ghosn has given since his stunning arrest on November 19, conducted in the Tokyo detention centre where he has languished ever since. He was charged with underreporting his salary over several years, and aggravated breach of trust for allegedly using Nissan to shoulder his personal trading losses from foreign exchange contracts.

He told the Nikkei there was a plan to "integrate" the three companies but insisted it was meant to ensure there would be "autonomy under one holding company". He resigned as chairman and chief executive of French company Renault.

But Ghosn rejected the characterisation of his tenure as a "dictatorship".

Ghosn told the Nikkei he had no intention of fleeing and wants to defend himself in court.

Tokyo prosecutors have accused the former chairman of understating his remuneration by around 9 billion yen ($83 million) in Nissan's securities reports over eight years through last March.

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"I don't understand why I am still being detained", he was quoted as saying, adding he could not tamper with evidence because "All the evidence is with Nissan".

Accusations have flown that too much power was concentrated in his hands, allowing him to personally profit with little oversight. They did so, he added, for the "purpose of getting rid of me".

Ghosn also called accusations by both Nissan and Mitsubishi that he received almost 8 million euros in improper payment through a Dutch-based joint venture of the two automakers "a distortion of reality", and argued his luxury residences in Rio de Janeiro and Beirut were approved by Nissan's legal department.

He has also come under fire for luxury houses in Rio de Janeiro and Beirut - which Nissan alleges were paid for improperly via a subsidiary. Pointing to a former loyalist and long-time executive in the legal department, Ghosn said: "Hari Nada has done all this".

Asked about his life in the detention center, he said "there is up and down" and that he is "doing fine" in terms of health.

While both companies repeatedly say they are committed to the partnership, Nissan has always been unhappy about what it considers to be an outsized French role in the alliance.

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