Judge Yuichi Tada said former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn’s ongoing detention was justified because he posed a flight risk and could tamper with evidence (Kiyoshi Ota)
Tokyo (AFP) – Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn appeared in public Tuesday for the first time since his arrest, claiming in a high-profile court hearing he had been “wrongly accused and unfairly detained”.
Here are some key dates since his arrest out of the blue in November that stunned Japan and the business world.
– November 19: Shock arrest –
Investigators from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office arrest Ghosn just after his private jet touches down at Haneda Airport.
His right-hand man and close aide Greg Kelly is also arrested.
Accused of financial misconduct, including under-reporting Ghosn’s salary between 2010 and 2015, they are detained for investigation for a period that is extended twice to December 10.
They both deny wrongdoing.
Prosecutors raid Nissan’s headquarters in the city of Yokohama and Ghosn’s luxury Tokyo apartment.
That evening Nissan chief executive officer Hiroto Saikawa says the company had uncovered years of financial misconduct, including under-reporting of income and inappropriate personal use of company assets.
“Too much authority was given to one person in terms of governance,” he tells reporters, referring to “a dark side of the Ghosn era”.
– November 20: Renault names interim boss –
After an emergency board meeting, French car giant Renault says Thierry Bollore will take over with Ghosn “temporarily incapacitated” following his arrest.
Bollore, previously the chief operating officer, is appointed deputy CEO with the “same powers” as Ghosn.
Days later, Renault launches an internal audit into Ghosn’s pay.
– November 22: Fired by Nissan
Nissan’s board votes unanimously to “discharge” Ghosn as chairman.
In Paris, the French and Japanese finance ministers, Bruno Le Maire and Hiroshige Seko, reiterate “strong support” for maintaining the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance.
– November 26: Fired by Mitsubishi –
Mitsubishi Motors executives, meeting in Tokyo, vote unanimously to oust Ghosn as chairman.
– November 29: Alliance affirms unity –
Automakers Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors reaffirm their commitment to their alliance in the first meeting of company leaders since Ghosn’s arrest.
Ghosn had been seen as the glue binding together the complex three-way structure that makes up the world’s top-selling auto company.
– December 10: Charges and re-arrest –
Ghosn is formally charged on the initial allegations of under-reporting his salary between 2010 and 2015, with prosecutors also re-arresting him on allegations of further under-reporting in the last three years, according to local media.
The new allegations restart the clock on his detention, allowing prosecutors to hold him for another 22 days.
– December 17: Nissan fails to agree Ghosn replacement –
The board of Nissan fails to agree a replacement for Ghosn as tensions grow in the firm’s alliance with Renault.
Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa says a committee advising the board on the decision needs more time, while media reports suggest the indecision is in part because of open discord with French automaker Renault.
– December 20: Request to extend detention rejected –
The Tokyo district court rejects a request by prosecutors to extend Ghosn’s detention, in a surprise move that meant he could have been freed on bail.
Prosecutors appealed the court decision but their appeal was also rejected.
– December 21: Re-arrest on new allegations –
Prosecutors re-arrest Ghosn over fresh allegations that he transferred losses from personal financial investments to Nissan, apparently dashing his hopes of early release.
The fresh arrest gives prosecutors 48 hours to question him on the new matter — possibly extended beyond that.
– December 31: Detention prolonged –
This time, the court grants prosecutors the right to question Ghosn further on the new allegations, extending his detention until January 11.
– January 4: Demand for a hearing –
Another completely unexpected twist in the saga as Ghosn’s lawyers dig out a little-used section of the Constitution to demand a hearing to explain the reasons for his detention.
– January 8: First public appearance since his arrest
Ghosn attends a hearing at the Tokyo District Court to make his first public appearance since his arrest. He says in a statement he has been “wrongly accused and unfairly detained”.
But the judge says the ongoing detention is justified because he poses a flight risk and could tamper with evidence.
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