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Nissan

Carlos Ghosn and Nissan clash over Rio flat filled with art and cash following indictments

  • Hailed for bringing Nissan back from the brink of bankruptcy, Ghosn is a well-known figure in Brazil, where he was born
  • Nissan alleges Ghosn under-reported his income by tens of millions of dollars and diverted corporate funds for personal use
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2018, 9:10am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2018, 8:28pm

A Rio de Janeiro flat containing cash, art works and personal belongings of Carlos Ghosn has become the latest battleground between the indicted former Nissan chairman and the automaker.

Ghosn is seeking to retrieve “personal belongings, documents, cash, objects and art pieces” from the beachfront flat, which Nissan says it owns. The home could contain evidence of financial misconduct, according to a filing by Nissan in a Brazilian court last week.

The previously unreported court papers show the extent of the legal dispute between Ghosn and Nissan over access to the flat, one of several around the world he has been able to use. Nissan alleges Ghosn under-reported his income by tens of millions of dollars and diverted corporate funds for personal use.

The legal dispute between Ghosn and Nissan extends far beyond Japan, where the scandal first broke and where Ghosn was formally charged on Monday.

The Rio flat contains three safes that Nissan has yet to open, according to the filings. The carmaker found them when it did an audit of the flat following Ghosn’s firing, the company said. The flat also has “designer furniture, artwork and decorative objects,” it added.

The Rio flat was bought by a Nissan subsidiary in late 2011 following the carmaker’s launch of a factory in the nearby city of Resende.

Nissan bought the flat expecting that Ghosn’s trips to Brazil, where he was born and maintains citizenship, would “become more constant” after the factory opened, Nissan said in the filings.

The flat is in the Copacabana neighbourhood, on a road directly facing Rio’s famous beaches. A flat in the same building was listed online for 12 million reais (US$3.07 million).

He’s a very smart guy. If he had done something wrong, he would never leave it in the flat
Jose Roberto de Castro Neves, lawyer

Monday’s indictment in Japan puts the ball back in the court of Nissan’s alliance partner, Renault. The French company, which owns a 43.4 per cent stake in Nissan, is preparing for a December 13 board meeting likely to consider Ghosn’s future as its chairman and chief executive.

Renault has so far stopped short of dismissing Ghosn while repeatedly demanding access to the findings of the Nissan internal investigation that led to his arrest.

Court proceedings in Brazil started on November 29 when a lawyer for Ghosn asked a judge to grant him access to the Rio flat.

Nissan says allowing him access would “represent an incalculable risk of destruction of potential evidence of crimes allegedly committed”. So far he has been denied access by Brazil’s courts.

A lawyer for Ghosn, Jose Roberto de Castro Neves, said he was unaware of the existence of three different safes and that it was “absurd speculation” that they may contain evidence of wrongdoing.

“He’s a very smart guy,” de Castro Neves said in a brief phone interview. “If he had done something wrong, he would never leave it in the flat.”

Hailed for bringing Nissan back from the brink of bankruptcy, Ghosn is a well-known figure in Brazil, where he was born.

Tokyo prosecutors on Monday indicted Ghosn for under-reporting his income and also charged the automaker, making Nissan culpable for the alleged financial misconduct, which has shocked the industry. Ghosn was arrested in Japan on November 19 and is being held in a Tokyo jail.

Ghosn has not made any statement through his lawyers in Japan but has denied the allegations, according to local media.