Carlos Ghosn. Picture: SUPPLIED
Carlos Ghosn. Picture: SUPPLIED

Tokyo — Ousted Nissan Motor chair Carlos Ghosn’s legal woes deepened on Friday with the start of a civil trial in Yokohama, Japan, where his former employer is seeking ¥10bn ($95m) in damages.

“The legal actions initiated today form part of Nissan’s policy of holding Ghosn accountable for the harm and financial losses incurred by the company due to [his] misconduct,” Nissan said in a statement.

Ghosn, who also ran French carmaker Renault, has been in Lebanon since January after fleeing Japan before he was due to stand trial. He denies any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors, who arrested Ghosn two years ago, have charged him with hiding ¥9.3bn in compensation, enriching himself at Nissan’s expense through $5m payments to a Middle East car dealership, and temporarily transferring personal financial losses to the cmaker’s books.

The “Nissan civil lawsuit is an extension to the extremely unreasonable internal investigation with sinister intent by a portion of Nissan’s senior management and the unreasonable arrests and indictments by the public prosecutors”, Ghosn said in an e-mailed statement.

Ghosn, who has said he was removed from Nissan to thwart any merger with Renault, which already owns 43% of the Japanese carmaker, was represented in the Yokohama court by lawyers.

The civil proceeding got underway as the criminal trial of former Nissan executive Greg Kelly, who is accused of helping Ghosn hide his earnings, continued at a court in Tokyo.

Kelly, who has lived in Japan since his release on bail almost two years ago, also denies any wrongdoing. Nissan, which is also a defendant in that trial, has pleaded guilty. If found guilty, Kelly could face up to 10 years in prison and a ¥10m fine. The conviction rate in Japan is about 99%.

Nissan is drawing back from the business expansion undertaken under Ghosn. On Thursday, it trimmed its full-year operating loss forecast as a rebound in vehicle demand in China and elsewhere helped boost sales.

Reuters

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