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Ghosn: Former Nissan chief arrested in Japan on new claims

Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn in Tokyo on 3 April 2019 Image copyright AFP

Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn has been re-arrested in Tokyo while out on bail pending trial over claims of financial misconduct.

Prosecutors said the 65-year-old had been detained over suspicions he caused Nissan $5m (£3.8m) in losses, according to reports.

In a statement, Mr Ghosn said his re-arrest was "outrageous and arbitrary".

Mr Ghosn's lawyer told a news conference they would strongly appeal against the latest arrest.

Junichiro Hironaka also said that Tokyo prosecutors had confiscated the passport and mobile phone of Carlos Ghosn's wife, Reuters reported.

Mr Ghosn, who denies any wrongdoing, was recently released on bail after 108 days in custody.

Tokyo prosecutors entered Mr Ghosn's residence before 06:00 local time on Thursday (21:00 GMT Wednesday) and took him to their office on suspicion he had misappropriated Nissan funds for personal use, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

Mr Ghosn's lawyer said it was almost unheard of to arrest someone after being released on bail.

"I am innocent of the groundless charges and accusations against me," Mr Ghosn said in a statement released by his representatives.

He said the arrest was "part of another attempt by some individuals at Nissan to silence me by misleading the prosecutors".

"Why arrest me except to try to break me? I will not be broken."

What happens next?

The move is the latest twist in a case that has attracted global attention.

Mr Ghosn was the architect of the alliance between Nissan and French carmaker Renault, and brought Mitsubishi on board in 2016. He is credited with turning around the fortunes of Nissan and Renault over several years.

Prosecutors said Mr Ghosn's latest arrest related to transfers of Nissan funds totalling $15m between 2015 and 2018.

They suspect $5m of that amount was used by Mr Ghosn for personal expenditure.

Local media had previously said that authorities had been building a new case against him involving payments to a dealership in Oman.

In Japan, prosecutors are permitted to re-arrest a suspect on a slightly different accusation, with approval from the courts. The clock is then reset and another 20 days of interrogation can begin.

Misconduct allegations

Mr Ghosn was first arrested in November for understating his pay. He was re-arrested twice in December and faces three charges.

He was first charged with underreporting his pay package for the five years to 2015.

In January, a fresh charge claimed he understated his compensation for another three years and he was also indicted on a new, more serious charge of breach of trust.

Mr Ghosn denies any wrongdoing. He was released on $9m (£6.8m) bail in March.

The auto executive also said on Wednesday on a newly created Twitter account that he was planning a press conference on 11 April "to tell the truth about what's happening".

Pressure from Renault

The latest arrest comes after Renault publicly criticised its former star executive for the first time, accusing him of "questionable and concealed practices".

Mr Ghosn only resigned from the French carmaker in January, while Nissan and Mitsubishi removed him as chairman shortly after his arrest.

Renault had initially questioned Nissan's allegations, but carried out its own internal inquiry.

But on Wednesday, it piled pressure on Mr Ghosn when it accused him of "violations of the group's ethical principles".

The carmaker said it would stop Mr Ghosn's pension, thought to be worth €765,000 a year, adding that it reserved the right to bring action against him in the courts.

Renault said it had also "informed the French judicial authorities of potential issues concerning payments made to one of Renault's distributors in the Middle East".

However, in an interview with French TV stations TF1 and LCI, Mr Ghosn - who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship - said: "I am innocent. It's hard, I have to admit it, and I call on the French government to defend me, and to defend my rights as a citizen."

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