TOKYO (Reuters) – The wife of former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has left Japan and flown to Paris to appeal to the French government to do more to help him, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.
Japanese prosecutors arrested Ghosn for a fourth time on Thursday on suspicion he had tried to enrich himself at the automaker’s expense, in another dramatic twist that his lawyers said was an attempt to muzzle him.
“I think the French government should do more for him. I don’t think he’s had enough support and he’s calling for assistance. As a French citizen, it should be a right”, Carole Ghosn told the FT in an interview before boarding a flight out of Japan late on Friday.
She said her husband’s previous 108-day imprisonment had left him “a different person” and that normal life under bail conditions had been impossible.
“You could see the fear in his eyes,” as rumors of his rearrest spread last week, she was quoted as saying.
Ghosn, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, has denied charges against him and called on the French government for help.
Tokyo prosecutors, Ghosn’s lawyer and his spokesperson were not immediately available for comment.
Public broadcaster NHK said on Sunday that prosecutors suspected Ghosn siphoned off part of the payments through a company where his wife is an executive to purchase a yacht and a boat.
The prosecutors asked her to meet them for voluntary questioning as an unsworn witness, but the request was turned down, which prompted them to ask judges to question her on their behalf, the broadcaster said.
Such a request gives judges the power to question on a mandatory basis witnesses who refuse to testify, according to NHK.
Ghosn’s lead lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, said on Thursday prosecutors confiscated Ghosn’s mobile phone, documents, notebooks and diaries, along with his wife’s passport and mobile phone.
The FT said prosecutors had confiscated his wife’s Lebanese passport in a dawn raid on their apartment in central Tokyo on Thursday morning, but did not discover her U.S. passport.
“I’m all alone here. It’s traumatizing what happened,” she was quoted as saying while awaiting her flight. “If my husband is in detention and I’m here, I won’t be useful. I’m going to France . . . and be more useful where I can be.”
Under Japanese law, prosecutors will be able to hold Ghosn for up to 22 days without charging him. The fresh arrest opens up the possibility that he will be interrogated again without his lawyer present, as is the norm in Japan.
The additional charge would likely prolong Ghosn’s trial, which is expected to begin later this year, his lawyer has said, adding that loss of access to Ghosn’s trial-related documents could put his client at a disadvantage in fighting his case.
Ghosn faces charges of financial misconduct and aggravated breach of trust over allegedly failing to report around $82 million in salary and temporarily transferring personal financial losses onto Nissan’s books during the financial crisis.
Released on $9 million bail on March 6, the executive says he is the victim of a boardroom coup.
The scandal has rocked the global auto industry and shined a harsh light on Japan’s judicial system.
(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)