The immediate appearance of Carlos Ghosn, which took place Tuesday, January 8, has a symbolic significance is strong for the tycoon who was able to break the media silence in which he is walled for several weeks in Japan.
Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn told himself "Falsely accused and unjustly detained", during his first appearance before a judge, nearly two months after his surprise arrest in Tokyo.
The 64-year-old car mogul, who suffered a brutal downfall after becoming an all-powerful figure, defended himself in a clear and strong way, without showing emotion, during a hearing that attracted the world's media and many curious.
Wearing a dark suit, no tie, green plastic sandals at the foot, he appeared clearly emaciated, hollow cheeks, handcuffed, with a rope around the waist before the start of the session that lasted almost two hours.
The Renault-Nissan alliance is "not in danger"
Speaking in English, he recalled having dedicated "Two decades of his life to rise to Nissan and build the alliance", a company he says he loves. The Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian leader says "To have acted with honor, legally and with the knowledge and approval of the company's leaders", according to a written statement he read.
He assured that he had not had any personal losses covered at Nissan and detailed the transactions for which he is accused of breach of trust, ensuring that the sums paid by a Nissan subsidiary to a Saudi businessman have been paid for the services rendered to assist the group in the Gulf region.
VIDEO - Carlos Ghosn, the fall of an automobile icon
The judge justified his continued detention by a risk of flight abroad "Where he has bases" and alteration of evidence. "There is sufficient evidence to suggest that the suspect could induce individuals to conceal offenses", argued magistrate Yuichi Tada.
Breaking the media silence
The appearance procedure of this type is rare, only 0.6% of inmates made such a request last year. It has almost no chance to change the course of things but the symbolic significance is strong for Carlos Ghosn, who was able to break the media silence in which he has been walled for several weeks.
"Even if it's only ten minutes, for him it's very important to be able to tell the world its truth"responded Flavien Neuvy, director of the Cetelem Observatory of the Paris-based automotive industry.
Carlos Ghosn was indicted on December 10 for concealment to the stock market authorities of a portion of his income earned at Nissan: about 5 billion yen (38 million euros) over five years, from 2010 to 2015.
At the end of this first custody, he was the subject of a new arrest warrant for a similar reduction of emoluments, but this time between 2015 and 2018, then a third, for abuse of trust.
The hardness of the Japanese judicial system
When can Carlos Ghosn be released? After disappointed hopes in December, he arrives Friday after his third custody, but he can remain in prison pending his trial or even be arrested on new charges. The length of his detention is astonishing abroad, where some are offended by the harshness of the Japanese judicial system.
Carlos Ghosn in prison in Japan, a dehumanized prison system
His relatives also indignantly. Two of his daughters, interviewed by the New York Times, questioning a cabal Nissan to counter a potential merger with Renault.
"A betrayal of some Nissan executives"
Greg Kelly's wife, Carlos Ghosn's right-hand man arrested on the same day as him and released on December 25 on bail, also complained "An international conspiracy, a betrayal of some Nissan executives". This scenario is refuted by the Japanese manufacturer who says he had no choice but to "Put an end to the serious acts" from the one who had saved him.
The case was part of one or more whistleblowers within the group, who conducted the investigation in secret for several months before transmitting the information to the prosecutor, who also conducted his own investigations.
Several hundred Nissan employees are still mobilized and every week or so, new suspicions filter through the media. "The company's investigation continues, and its field continues to expand"The company said Tuesday that his decision to sack Carlos Ghosn was irrevocable.
Faced with this avalanche of accusations, Renault has for the moment low profile, choosing to maintain confidence in Carlos Ghosn.