BEIRUT (Reuters) – French investigative judges questioned Carlos Ghosn, the former head of automakers who fled Japan, on Monday, opening hearings that one of his lawyers described as a precedent for justice since his client was arrested in Japan.
Ghosn, the engineer of the Renault-Nissan alliance, has faced numerous investigations since he fled to Lebanon in late 2019 and said he hoped to be cleared of allegations of financial irregularities.
The French accusations relate to financial irregularities in France, and the session began today, and the sessions are expected to continue until the fourth of June.
Lawyer Jean Tamale – one of Ghosn’s lawyers – told reporters at the end of the session, “It is the first time that our client has been able to clarify his position in front of the judges, while his lawyers are sitting next to him and after preparing his defense.”
France’s disputes with Ghosn
In France, Ghosn and his former employer Renault are at odds over retirement pay and end-of-service benefits while tax authorities consider his financial arrangements.
French judges in Lebanon are seeking answers to questions about Ghosn’s events at the palatial Palace of Versailles, including his knowledgeable use of company resources on one occasion to host a private party.
The French prosecutor’s office is also looking into financial flows between Renault, its Dutch unit and a car dealership in Oman.
Ghosn’s defense lawyers said earlier that they had detected procedural irregularities in the French case, which undermine the legal procedures arranged by the Lebanese judicial authorities.
They added in a statement that judges will hear Ghosn, who previously lived and worked in France and holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian nationalities, as a witness and therefore cannot challenge the legality of the procedure.
The statement stated that the team is demanding that Ghosn be given “accused status, because this alone would allow him to challenge the legal errors in the case.”
Ghosn faced a major setback last week in one of the lawsuits when a Dutch court ordered him to return his wages of 5 million euros ($ 6.1 million) to Nissan and Mitsubishi in a lawsuit he filed against the two companies.
It is noteworthy that Ghosn served as CEO of Nissan between July 2012 and April 2018.