NEW YORK -- Handcuffed and wearing plastic slippers, Carlos Ghosn appeared in a Japanese court Tuesday to rebuff prosecutors’ allegations of financial wrongdoing.
As he defended himself against charges he failed to disclose income from Nissan, his sunken cheeks and graying hair underscored his downfall from the top of the business world where he built a nine-figure fortune.
Ghosn, 64, amassed a net worth of about $120 million over the decades he spent atop the automotive industry, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He owns about $60 million of shares in Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors. Disclosed salaries and dividends over the years total another $60 million or so.
Ghosn’s fortune could be even higher. The figure excludes compensation he received from Nissan before it was first disclosed in 2010, which could run into the tens of millions of dollars. His lawyers, represented by Motonari Otsuru, declined to comment on his wealth.
Ghosn’s life and lucrative career were upended Nov. 19, when Japanese prosecutors detained him on suspicion of understating his compensation in regulatory filings. Accusations against him have piled up since, and authorities repeatedly extended his confinement.
On Tuesday, Ghosn professed his innocence.
“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,” the former Nissan chairman told the Tokyo court. “I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations.”
The hearing was Ghosn’s first chance to give his side of the story, and he laid out his defense against charges he failed to disclose income from Nissan and saddled the automaker with trading losses. Nissan also accused Ghosn of misusing company funds, including over his use of homes from Brazil to Lebanon and the hiring of his sister on an advisory contract. On Wednesday, the court rejected his appeal against the ongoing detention.