In 1st public address, Ghosn says he is innocent, victim of backstabbing

A video statement made by the former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn is shown on a screen during a news conference by his lawyers at Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo. (Reuters pic)

TOKYO: Ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn said he was innocent and slammed former colleagues whom he accused of backstabbing and conspiring against him, addressing the public for the first time since his initial arrest last year.

Prosecutors took the highly unusual step of re-arresting Ghosn last week on fresh allegations that he used company funds to enrich himself to the tune of US$5 million. The once-feted executive had been out on US$9 million bail for 30 days, during which he recorded the video screened by his lawyers on Tuesday.

“This is a conspiracy … this is not about greed or dictatorship, this is about a plot, this about a conspiracy, this is about a backstabbing,” Ghosn said.

He was wearing a dark jacket and a white shirt. His hands were folded in front of him as he looked into the camera and spoke in a clipped, matter-of-fact manner. His hair appeared to be greyer and his face thinner than before last year’s arrest.

The conspiracy, he said, was borne out of fear that he would bring Nissan closer to its alliance partner, top shareholder Renault SA.

“There was fear that the next step of the alliance in terms of convergence and in terms of moving towards a merger, would in a certain way threaten some people or eventually threaten the autonomy of Nissan,” he said.