A court trial over Nissan’s demand for 10bn yen (£73m) in damages from its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, has begun in Japan.
The civil case is being heard in Yokohama, where Nissan Motor Company is based. Nissan filed it in February.
The Japanese car giant is suing Ghosn over, it claims, various types of alleged financial misconduct
Ghosn jumped bail in December 2019 and fled to his home country of Lebanon while awaiting a separate criminal trial in Japan.
Ghosn said in a statement on Friday from Lebanon that the trial will prove his innocence, ‘that the suspicions of wrongfulness and charges held against me have absolutely no foundation.’
The car maker said: ‘Nissan carried out a robust and thorough internal investigation that included external lawyers. The investigation concluded that Ghosn intentionally committed serious misconduct.’
Nissan has accused Ghosn of spending company money on such things as homes in Lebanon and Brazil, use of the company jet for family trips and donations to universities in Lebanon it claimed had no business merit.
Ghosn reiterated the charges were ‘fabricated’. He said questions about his business activities could have been resolved within the company.
‘The current Nissan civil lawsuit is an extension to the extremely unreasonable internal investigation with sinister intent by a portion of Nissan’s senior management and the unreasonable arrests and indictments by the public prosecutors,’ Ghosn said.
Ghosn, arrested in November 2018, has been charged with breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation.
The criminal trial opened in September in Tokyo District Court without Ghosn. Former Nissan executive Greg Kelly and Nissan as a company are present as the defendants.
Kelly says he is innocent. Nissan has acknowledged guilt. A verdict is not expected for months.
Testimony has shown Ghosn returned about half his pay when Japan’s laws were revised in 2010, to require individual executive pay of more than 100m yen (£730,000) be reported.
Nissan officials had been trying to figure out ways to pay him without making it public because it was so massive compared to Japanese ‘salaryman’ pay.
Ghosn has said he fled because he could not expect a fair trial in Japan, a nation with a 99 per cent conviction rate.
Tokyo prosecutors say they are confident they have a case against Ghosn, as well as against Kelly.
Separately, Japan is asking the US to extradite two Americans accused of helping Ghosn escape to Lebanon.
The trial begins a day after Nissan posted a 44.4bn yen (£320.7m) loss in the last quarter, as reported by Car Dealer.