Carlos Ghosn Defends Himself in First Public Remarks

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TOKYO — In his first public appearance since his arrest nearly two months ago, Carlos Ghosn pushed back on Tuesday against the accusations that toppled him from the top of a global automotive empire, declaring he was innocent of all allegations.

“I have always acted with integrity and have never been accused of any wrongdoing in my several-decade professional career,” Mr. Ghosn planned to say, according to prepared remarks distributed as a hearing began in Tokyo District Court. “I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations.”

Mr. Ghosn, who until recently was head of the vast car-making alliance of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi, was arrested in Japan in November on allegations of financial wrongdoing and has been jailed with limited contact to the outside world ever since. On Tuesday he was led into the Tokyo court handcuffed with a rope around his waist. He was wearing plastic slippers and a dark suit without a tie.

He was appearing in a packed courtroom to defend himself against allegations that he improperly transferred personal losses to Nissan’s books and withheld millions of dollars in income from Nissan’s financial filings for years as chairman and chief executive.

“Contrary to the accusations made by the prosecutors, I never received any compensation from Nissan that was not disclosed, nor did I ever enter into any binding contract with Nissan to be paid a fixed amount that was not disclosed,” Mr. Ghosn, 64, said in his prepared remarks.

The court hearing was Mr. Ghosn’s first public appearance since his Nov. 19 arrest, when the Japanese authorities seized him shortly after he landed in a corporate jet at a Tokyo airport. A rare foreign corporate leader who became a celebrity in Japan for turning around Nissan nearly two decades ago, the Brazilian-born and Lebanese- and French-educated engineer helped link Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi, creating a business that sells more than 10 million cars annually. He oversaw it with more power and longevity than is typical at publicly traded companies.

Now that empire’s fate is in doubt. Mr. Ghosn has since been ousted as chairman of both Nissan and Mitsubishi. The relationship between Nissan and Renault, where Mr. Ghosn has kept his titles, has become tense.

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