Japan trying to 'break' ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn in detention, wife says

By Elizabeth Shim
Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been confined in harsh circumstances since his arrest in April, says his wife, Carole Ghosn. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been confined in harsh circumstances since his arrest in April, says his wife, Carole Ghosn. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, July 3 (UPI) -- Japan's prosecutors are trampling on former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn's basic rights in an abusive justice system, his wife told UPI this week.

Carole Ghosn, who is in France after leaving Japan following her husband's second arrest, told UPI in a phone interview she was completely unprepared for 20 Japanese prosecutors marching into the couple's Tokyo apartment early April 3.


Prosecutors may have also leaked plans of the raid to local media, she said.

"It was 5:50 a.m.; they had already called the press," Carole Ghosn said. "They had a bunch of reporters downstairs, to humiliate my husband."

Carlos Ghosn has been charged, but not convicted, of financial misconduct. Japanese authorities allege the former Nissan executive diverted company funds to a Saudi businessman and underreported compensation.

Carole Ghosn said her husband was detained for 48 days for the underreported income, which was for retirement, before they arrested him again in April. He was granted bail after 108 days, but remains confined under 24-hour surveillance and not allowed to communicate with his wife.


He has denied all charges.

Carole Ghosn insists her husband is innocent and said she is bewildered by the way authorities dealt with her during the April raid.

"They treated me like I'm a criminal," she said.

After prosecutors took her husband away, Carole Ghosn said she was unable to leave her apartment for hours as her residence was searched.

Still in her pajamas, when she asked to go to the bathroom, a woman accompanied her, staying in the space as she showered.

Carole Ghosn said authorities are trying to force her husband into a confession.

"They have a 99 percent conviction rate, because they coerce people, put them under very harsh conditions where the lights are on 24/7," she said. "They have no heating in the winter, showers are twice a week, and have to sit in a certain position.

"They don't get fresh air for three days. On weekends they are locked up in their rooms."

Prosecutors in Japan want to "break" him, she said, ahead of his trial later this year.

Fallout at Nissan

Carlos Ghosn's downfall follows nearly two dramatic decades at Nissan, where he turned the ailing car company around not long after he assumed leadership. Ghosn was hailed in Japan as a hero, or a god, but his management practices may have demonstrated he was unafraid to be a bull in a china shop.


"The way Ghosn turned the company around was by breaking a number of Japanese customs," says Alicia Ogawa, an analyst at Columbia Business School's Center on Japanese Economy and Business.

"He cut out a lot of the traditional suppliers. He laid off people, he brought in a lot of foreigners for several years. It made economic sense to him."

Ghosn's strategy paid off and he was celebrated in Japanese business circles, until Nissan's fortunes began to decline relative to Toyota and other companies, Ogawa said.

Tensions between Ghosn and Japanese colleagues at Nissan may have reached a breaking point as the French government, which owns a 15 percent stake in Nissan's partner Renault, began to push for a merger.

Ghosn has been depicted as a merger advocate in press reports, but Ogawa said there may have been a possibility Ghosn was trying to hold off a French-led merger as he attempted to move to a different type of arrangement.

A merger would be intolerable for Japan, she added.

Internal audits conducted by Nissan and Renault in June so far show about $12 million of questionable expenses at the firms' Dutch subsidiary RNBV. Renault has said the expenses were linked to Ghosn.


On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that police in Paris were searching Renault SA's headquarters for evidence related to the Ghosn probe.

Carole Ghosn has been steadfast in supporting her husband. A U.S. citizen, she most recently petitioned President Donald Trump ahead of the G20 summit in Osaka, on behalf of her husband and for his former deputy and counsel, Greg Kelly, who is also American.

"This is very hard for Carlos' children," she said, referring to children from Ghosn's first marriage.

"It's a nightmare for us. Our world was turned upside down overnight."

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