Carlos Ghosn tied up in Japanese court appearance
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Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has been told he could spend another six months behind bars before his case even comes to trial, as he was brought before a Tokyo court today in chains.
Ghosn, 64, wore a dark suit and, having lost more than 40lbs on a rice-based prison diet, looked significantly thinner and with suddenly greying hair.
Handcuffed and with a rope around his waist, Ghosn told Tokyo District Court he had been 'wrongly accused' of financial misconduct after it was claimed he under-reported his salary by £34.5million.
Photographers film a vehicle presumably carrying former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn entering Tokyo Detention Center in Tokyo on Tuesday. Picture/AP.
Japan allows prosecutors to seek lengthy pre-trial detention as well as further detention periods to investigate allegations even before pressing charges.
His lawyer said it would be 'very difficult' to win bail and it could be months before his case is heard.
'I believe it could be considered that at least six months will be needed before being able to go to the first trial,' Motonari Otsuru said, citing the complexity of the case and the fact that the documents involved are in both Japanese and English.
'I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations,' the once-revered titan of the auto industry told the court in a clear and steady voice.
He showed no emotion and mostly faced forward or looked down, glancing occasionally at the gallery in the packed courtroom.
In a career spanning decades, during which he won praise for turning around the struggling Japanese car maker, he said he had 'always acted with integrity' and had never before been accused of any wrongdoing.
I have acted honourably, legally and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company,' stressed Ghosn.
From the moment on November 19 that prosecutors stormed his private jet at a Tokyo airport, the twists and turns of the case have gripped Japan and the business world.
At one point, the Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian tycoon appeared on the point of release, only for prosecutors to produce further allegations against him to continue his custody.
The Japanese courtroom before the appearance of former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn in Tokyo this week. Picture/AP.
In an indication of the huge interest in the case, more than 1,000 people waited outside the court from the early hours in the hope of getting one of just 14 tickets for the public gallery.
'I never received any compensation from Nissan that was not disclosed,' he said.
He added that Nissan never incurred any losses from his foreign exchange contracts and that the Saudi partner, Khaled Juffali, was 'appropriately compensated' for 'critical services that substantially benefited Nissan'.
A statement issued on behalf of Juffali's company, the first since the allegations emerged, said the compensation was for work done to benefit Nissan, including resolving a local business dispute and lobbying for the approval for a new plant in Saudi Arabia.
A towering figure in the auto industry, Ghosn is credited with turning around a struggling Nissan - also giving him a high profile rare for foreign executives in Japan.
He forged an unlikely three-way alliance between Mitsubishi Motors, Renault and Nissan that now outsells any other rival group.
Ghosn said that reviving the fortunes of the Japanese firm was 'the greatest joy of my life, next to my family'.