Junichiro Hironaka, lawyer of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn speaks during a press conference in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 2, 2019. Hironaka said his client cannot get a fair trial under the same judge as the Japanese automaker, which is a co-defendant in a pending financial misconduct case, arguing Nissan has been acting “as one” with the prosecutors.((AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Renault board to discuss Ghosn investigation, ex-CEO's pay

April 02, 2019 - 5:26 am

PARIS (AP) — French carmaker Renault SA's board will hold a special meeting to discuss recent results of its internal investigation of its former boss Carlos Ghosn, amid reports of suspicious payments under his watch.

The board meeting planned for Wednesday will also look into Ghosn's 2018 pay as chairman and CEO of Renault, a Renault official told The Associated Press.

Ghosn, under investigation in Tokyo, has denied wrongdoing.

He was chairman of Nissan and headed the two automakers' alliance until his arrest in November in Japan. He was released on bail in March pending his trial in Tokyo.

Unconfirmed media reports said the company has handed information about payments worth millions of euros (dollars) to a Renault-Nissan distributor in Oman from its probe to French prosecutors.

French prosecutors and Ghosn's lawyers in France did not immediately comment.

In Tokyo on Tuesday, Ghosn's lawyer said he has petitioned a Tokyo court seeking separate judicial proceedings for Ghosn and Nissan Motor Co., who currently are co-defendants in a financial misconduct trial.

Hironaka reiterated Ghosn's innocence and accused Nissan of working "as one" with prosecutors who have charged him with breach of trust and with falsifying financial reports in under-stating his compensation.

The lawyer declined comment on the reports about Renault's investigation.

He said that under a plea bargaining process that is relatively new in Japan, some Nissan executives have escaped prosecution in return for cooperating with the prosecutors, Hironaka said.

That has helped prosecutors shape a narrative that suggests Ghosn is guilty, he said.

Hironaka, who has a strong track record for acquittals in a country where the conviction rate is over 99%, said he preferred that a different judge hear testimony from the executives who took plea bargains.

Having Ghosn and his former employer Nissan face trial together would be unfair, he said.

"No matter how you look at it, Nissan is not a defendant but a prosecutor," Hironaka said.

Hironaka also requested that Ghosn be tried separately from another defendant in the case, Greg Kelly, a Nissan executive accused of facilitating Ghosn's misconduct.

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AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama contributed to this report.

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