Nissan top executive Munoz resigns amid broadened Ghosn probe

An artists sketch of Carlos Ghosn during his court appearance on Tuesday

Ghosn's third arrest warrant was served on December 21 for allegedly shifting company funds to help cover his personal investment losses during the 2008 financial crisis.

Ghosn, who appeared much thinner than before his arrest, came down with a fever the day after his court appearance, but has since recovered, his lawyer Motonari Ohtsuru said.

A prosecutor's office spokeswoman said the charges against Ghosn carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.

Ghosn's prolonged detention has put the spotlight on Japan's justice system, which has come in for some worldwide criticism.

His lawyers, in an opinion submitted to the court, argued that Ghosn's actions, including using Nissan's financial standing as collateral to secure currency exchange swaps, were undertaken with the approval of Nissan's board and officers.

And with each formal charge, prosecutors can hold Ghosn for two months of pre-trial detention, which is also renewable. The former auto tycoon has been charged with aggravated breach of trust, and with violating a financial law by underreporting his compensation.

When he was first detained on November 19, Ghosn was charged with falsifying financial reports and under-reporting his income by about five billion yen (£34 million) over five years.

His detention has been extended until Friday and prosecutors are expected to press new charges to try to prolong it further. The court rejected an appeal by Ghosn's lawyers for his release from detention, and on Thursday turned down another appeal.

The 64-year-old was charged on Friday with aggravated breach of trust for temporarily transferring personal investment losses to Nissan in 2008, and for understating his compensation for three fiscal years through March 2018, according to the Tokyo District Court.

Ghosn's lawyer said earlier this week that his client would likely be held until the trial which could begin in about six months. He was transferred to a bigger room with a Western-style bed, according to Ohtsuru.

The auto executive's Japanese lawyers applied for bail soon after the new indictment on Friday.

He has reportedly complained about the rice-based diet at the detention center, with his family saying he has lost up to 20 kilos (44 pounds).

As chairman of Nissan, Renault SA (RENA.PA) and Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T), the globe-trotting Ghosn had access to a string of residences around the world, including additional homes in Beirut and Rio de Janeiro.

"I have a genuine love and appreciation for Nissan", Ghosn told the court.

A judge in the Tokyo District Court said during the hearing that keeping Ghosn in jail during the investigation was justified because he posed a flight risk and could hide evidence.

Meanwhile the Renault board on Thursday said that an ongoing audit into executive pay had found no sign of fraud in the last two years.

It said it took the charges filed against the firm "extremely seriously" and was continuing its investigation into the case.



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