Embattled former Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn now faces an investigation in France after having been charged in Japan (Kazuhiro NOGI)
Nanterre (France) (AFP) – French prosecutors have begun an inquiry into the lavish wedding party at the Palace of Versailles for former Renault and Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn, part of which was billed to Renault, a legal source told AFP on Monday.
The French automaker disclosed last month that the chateau had waived the usual 50,000 euro ($56,000) rental fee for the October 2016 party under a sponsorship fee signed a few months earlier.
The waived bill could amount to the misuse of company resources, as well as tax evasion, if the benefit-in-kind was not declared to French authorities.
Renault began sifting through Ghosn’s years at the helm after his shock arrest in Tokyo last November on charges of under-reporting millions of dollars in salary as head of Nissan, Renault’s alliance partner.
His subsequent indictment in Japan on three charges of financial misconduct has led to renewed scrutiny of his management and lifestyle at both companies.
Ghosn and his second wife Carole threw a Marie Antoinette-themed dinner and party at the former royal residence at Versailles, complete with entertainers in period costumes, on October 8, 2016.
In a statement, the Chateau de Versailles said Renault had signed a 2.3-million-euro sponsorship deal with the palace in June 2016.
Under the terms of the deal, Renault could benefit in return from Versailles access and other services worth a maximum 25 percent of the deal, in this case around 575,000 euros, it said.
Ghosn’s lawyer in France, Jean-Yves Le Borgne, told AFP that the executive “stands ready” to repay the money, saying his client was “not aware he owed it because he had not been billed.
“He thought it was free,” Le Borgne said.
Ghosn was released from a Tokyo detention centre last week after more than 100 days in custody, following an unusual court decision allowing him to post bail of one billion yen ($9 million).
The executive, who turned 65 over the weekend, has strongly denied the charges of financial misdeeds.
But he has been stripped of his chairmanships at Nissan and fellow alliance partner Mitsubishi, and removed as CEO of Renault, while awaiting trial.
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