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Carlos Ghosn blames arrest on plot by Nissan executives

Carlos Ghosn blames arrest on plot by Nissan executives

FORMER Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has blamed his arrest on a plot by other executives who opposed his plan for closer ties with the firm’s French alliance partner Renault, according to a Japanese business paper.

Nikkei said it interviewed Ghosn today for 20 minutes at the Tokyo Detention Centre, where he has been held since November 19. It was his first media interview since his arrest last year. Earlier he was only allowed visits by his lawyers and embassy officials.

Prosecutors have charged Ghosn with allegedly falsifying financial reports in under-reporting his compensation. He has also been indicted for breach of trust related to his handling of investment losses and to payments made to a Saudi businessman.

In the interview, Ghosn reiterated his insistence that he is innocent and said others in the company schemed to force him out with a ‘plot and treason’.

Renault owns 43 per cent of Nissan. It sent Ghosn to Japan in 1999 to help lead the Japanese firm’s turnaround from near bankruptcy.

Ghosn said he had discussed a ‘plan to integrate’ Nissan with Renault and their smaller alliance partner Mitsubishi with Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa in September, the report said.

The plan was to more closely integrate Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors and ensure they had ‘autonomy under one holding company’, he told the newspaper.

The newspaper said Ghosn, 64, did not appear tired or flustered. He said he was ‘doing fine’ when asked about his health. ‘In life there are ups and downs,’ the newspaper quoted him as saying.

The news comes as the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance announced that its member companies sold a combined total of 10,756,875 units in the 12 months to December 31, 2018. The alliance said it maintained its position as the world leader in volume sales of passenger and light commercial vehicles.

Unit sales for 2018 rose 1.4 per cent year-over-year amid continued strong demand for vehicles including the Renault Clio, Captur and Sandero, the Nissan X-Trail/Rogue and Sentra/Sylphy and Mitsubishi’s Eclipse Cross and Xpander.

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