After more than a week of radio silence, detained former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has finally spoken - well, sort of. In what was his first public comment since his arrest on a Tokyo tarmac last Monday, Ghosn's lawyer denied reports that his client shifted a $15 million trading loss onto Nissan's books nearly 10 years ago during the market selloff triggered by the financial crisis.
According to Bloomberg, Ghosn said that while he did consult Nissan about the collateral related to his losing derivatives trades, he didn't ask Nissan to pay for them, according to Motonari Otsuru, the former head of the Tokyo prosecutor's office who is now representing Ghosn.
However, Ghosn didn't comment on the raft of other allegations that are reportedly being pursued by Japanese investigators, though he has denied any wrongdoing, according to his attorney. The other allegations facing Ghosn include dramatically underreported his income by as much as $100 million (a figure that includes performance-based stock awards), helping to funnel money to a Nissan-Renault joint venture that purchased luxury homes for him and his family to use in Beirut, Rio De Janeiro, Paris and Amsterdam, and pushing Nissan to hire his sister as a consultant, offering her a $100,000 annual salary for what was effectively a no-show job.
Ghosn is suspected of breaking the Financial Instruments and Exchange Law, an offense that would carry a sentence as high as 10 years. But the CEO has yet to be formally charged, and Japanese investigators have another week and a half to either bring charges or let Ghosn go. Since the allegations surfaced, Ghosn has been fired by the boards of Nissan and Mistubishi, he had served as chairman of both companies, but has retained his formal title at Renault, where he served as chairman and CEO (the French car maker has appointed a temporary CEO to serve in Ghosn's absence).
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said the French government, which owns a 15% stake in Renault, is waiting to learn more about the allegations facing Ghosn before deciding whether to push for his ouster. Since the executive's arrest, rumors about a possible palace coup have strained relations between Renault and Nissan and raised questions about the future of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance.