TOKYO • Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan Motor chairman, was arrested again by Japanese authorities yesterday, this time on suspicion that he shifted more than US$16 million (S$22 million) in personal losses incurred a decade ago to the automaker.
The rearrest of Ghosn dealt a setback to his hopes for getting released from the Tokyo jail where he has been held for more than a month on different charges. It also adds to the legal problems of an executive who once oversaw a global automotive empire that sold more than 10 million cars last year.
The Japanese authorities rearrested Ghosn on suspicion of breach of trust related to a financial investment that tumbled in value during the 2008 global financial crisis, according to NHK, the Japanese public broadcaster.
The authorities said he transferred the investment, a derivative contract, to Nissan from his personal asset management company. Ghosn’s Japanese lawyer could not be reached for comment.
The rearrest essentially gives Japanese prosecutors another chance to keep Ghosn, 64, in jail.
He has been at the same detention centre since Nov 19, when law enforcement officials descended on a corporate jet after it landed and arrested him on suspicion that he underreported his compensation to the Japanese authorities.
Ghosn and another executive, Greg Kelly, were indicted last week on charges that they colluded in underreporting Ghosn’s compensation in securities filings.
Nissan itself was indicted on a charge of underreporting an executive’s pay in regulatory filings.
On Thursday, a Tokyo court unexpectedly rejected a routine request by prosecutors to extend the detention of Ghosn and Kelly for 10 more days to continue questioning them.
That opened the possibility that they could be released on bail.
Kelly, 50, an American and a former Nissan human resources manager, applied for bail yesterday.
Ghosn’s rearrest gives prosecutors two days to ask a court to keep him in jail for another 10 days. They could also ask for another 10 days after that.
The detention of the two auto executives has stirred mounting international criticism.
Kelly’s family has appealed to US and Japanese officials to help secure his release so he could have surgery to treat a spinal condition.
The drama of their detention has riveted the Japanese news media.
Ghosn, who was credited with rescuing Nissan nearly two decades ago, was until recently a corporate star in Japan.
His downfall, as well as an expanding narrative of corporate intrigue and backstabbing, has been followed avidly.
The case has roiled a carmaking empire that includes Renault in France, which owns a 43 per cent stake in Nissan. Together they are in an alliance with Mitsubishi Motors of Japan.
Until his arrest last month, Ghosn ruled over the alliance. “Nissan’s own investigation is ongoing, and its scope continues to broaden,” a Nissan spokesman said yesterday.
Hours before Ghosn was rearrested yesterday, Japanese journalists started lining up at the Tokyo detention centre where he and Kelly have been held. Nearly 30 people requested to see them but were quickly denied.
Under Japanese law, courts can approve prosecutors’ requests to detain suspects for up to 23 days after an arrest before charging them with a crime. After suspects are indicted, prosecutors can continue to detain them unless a court approves a request for bail.