Ousted Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn, who was arrested in connection with financial misconduct allegations, told a court here on Tuesday that he was innocent and “wrongfully accused”.
“I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated allegations,” Ghosn said in a statement released by a representative at the beginning of the Tokyo District Court session.
His lawyer had demanded that the court justify Ghosn’s continued detention, Efe news reports.
The long-time Nissan chief has been held in a Tokyo jail since November 19. Tuesday’s hearing marked the first time he has appeared in public since then.
Tokyo prosecutors have charged Ghosn with underreporting his compensation by tens of millions of dollars in Nissan’s financial statements.
The charge hinges on the prosecutors’ view that Ghosn deferred a portion of his compensation and intentionally did not report it.
In Tuesday’s statement, Ghosn said he did not violate the law because the amount of the unpaid portion of his compensation was not determined.
Japanese law requires the disclosure of compensation when the amount is clear.
Since December 20, Tokyo prosecutors have also been investigating Ghosn on suspicion of committing breach of trust, a crime under Japanese law that refers to executives abusing their position for personal gain.
The prosecutors said they suspected Ghosn temporarily forced Nissan to take over a personal derivatives contract so he could avoid losing money.
When Ghosn eventually took the contract back a few months later, he did so with support of a letter of credit facilitated by a friend and later gave Nissan business to the friend, according to a prosecutors’ statement of their suspicions.
Ghosn said Nissan suffered no losses from temporarily holding the derivatives contract and that payments to the friend’s company were for services rendered to Nissan, not to himself.
Following Tuesday’s hearing, Ghosn’s legal team will hold a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan at which they will read out the statement Ghosn plans to give in court, CNN said.
While in jail, Ghosn has been ousted as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors.
He remains chairman and CEO of Renault, but the company has assigned his duties to other executives in his absence.