Business / Corporate

Carlos Ghosn's wife 'responded in good faith' to questioning in Tokyo, says lawyer

AFP-JIJI

Japanese authorities investigating alleged financial misconduct by former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn questioned his wife, Carole, at a closed-door hearing on Thursday, his lawyer said.

Carole Ghosn has increasingly emerged as a key figure in the case surrounding her tycoon husband, who is in detention facing multiple allegations of financial malpractice.

Ghosn’s lead defense lawyer Junichiro Hironaka confirmed to reporters that Carole Ghosn had answered the authorities’ questions but would not be drawn on the detail of the ongoing investigation.

“She responded in good faith as she had promised to,” he said, but declined to offer specifics of what was discussed during the nearly three-hour session.

He said he believed there would be no further questions for Carole Ghosn but declined to speculate on whether she would remain in Japan.

Carole Ghosn left Japan last week using an American passport after Japanese police confiscated her Lebanese passport. She returned to Japan late Wednesday to meet the authorities — “proof that she never intended to run away from anybody”, according to the couple’s lawyer Francois Zimeray.

Authorities are investigating claims that Carlos Ghosn siphoned off around $5 million (¥555.5 million) of Nissan funds for his personal use.

Prosecutors believe this money was taken from around $15 million transferred from Nissan to a dealership in Oman between 2015 and 2018.

According to a source close to the matter, some of the $5 million was funneled to a British Virgin Islands-listed company — which has Carole Ghosn registered as the president — to purchase a luxury yacht.

The boat, 37-meters (120-feet) long and weighing nearly 300 tons, is worth more than €12 million (¥1.5 billion), according to the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

Carlos Ghosn denies all allegations made against him and slammed “backstabbing” executives at Nissan in a video message aired Tuesday during which he said he was a victim of a plot from those who feared he would tie Nissan closer to its French partner Renault.

Prosecutors have until Sunday to question the auto legend, after which they can apply for a further 10-day period of custody.

Ghosn already faces three formal charges: two of underreporting of his salary in official financial documents, and a further charge of seeking to shift investment losses to the firm.

He has not been formally charged with any allegations linked to the Oman case.