Carlos Ghosn to appear in public for first time since arrest

Carlos Ghosn hasn’t been seen in public since his arrest in Japan on November 19. But that’s about to change.

The Tokyo District Court said Friday that the former Nissan chairman would appear on Tuesday at a hearing he requested to seek an explanation on why he has been held so long.

Ghosn, who has been accused of financial wrongdoing, will have the option to make a statement as part of the proceedings.

The auto industry legend has been locked in a Tokyo jail cell for nearly seven weeks, and the court has already approved a request from prosecutors to extend his detention until January 11.

Ghosn has been re-arrested twice since he was initially detained as prosecutors work to build a case against him.

The case has sparked questions about the Japanese justice system and the ability of prosecutors to keep a person in jail for extended periods of time while investigations continue.

Allegations date to 2010

Ghosn was indicted on December 10 on allegations he under-reported his income by tens of millions of dollars between 2010 and 2015 in Nissan disclosures. That charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

He has been accused of continuing the practice into the 2017 financial year but hasn’t been indicted on that allegation.

Prosecutors have also alleged that Ghosn temporarily shifted 1.85 billion yen ($16.6 million) of losses from his private investments onto a Nissan subsidiary as the global financial crisis erupted in October 2008.

Ghosn, a Brazilian-born French citizen who grew up in Lebanon, is yet to issue a detailed public statement in response to the allegations against him.

Visits from lawyers, family and friends are strictly controlled by prosecutors in Japan, making it difficult for suspects to establish a defense or give their side of the story to the media.

Ghosn maintains his innocence, according to his Tokyo-based lawyer.

Alliance impact

Ghosn’s detention has shaken the international auto industry and strained the alliance he built between Nissan (NSANY), Renault (RNSDF) and Mitsubishi Motors (MMTOF).

While in jail, Ghosn has been ousted as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors. He remains chairman and CEO of Renault, but the company has assigned his duties to other executives in his absence.

Representatives for the French automaker did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Nissan has said the alleged misconduct was first brought to its attention by a whistleblower. An internal investigation uncovered serious problems, according to the company, which led it to alert authorities in Japan.

Greg Kelly, the former Nissan director accused of helping Ghosn under-report his income, was released from jail in Japan on Christmas Day after being granted bail.

Kelly denies any wrongdoing. His wife said he had been wrongly accused as part of a power grab by Nissan executives targeting Ghosn — an allegation Nissan disputes.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the day Ghosn will appear in court.