Japanese authorities on Monday hit former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn with a fresh charge of aggravated breach of trust, the fourth formal indictment against the auto sector tycoon.
The Tokyo District Court confirmed that prosecutors had filed the new indictment, which paves the way for his legal team to apply for bail.
The 65-year-old strenuously denies all allegations against him and insists they have been cooked up in a “plot” by Nissan executives wary of his plans to bring the Japanese car giant closer to its French partner Renault.
Prosecutors are looking into allegations that Ghosn funnelled some $15 million in Nissan funds to a dealership in the Middle East and siphoned off around five million dollars for his personal use.
Nissan itself said it had filed a criminal complaint against its former boss “after determining that payments made by Nissan to an overseas vehicle sales company via a subsidiary were in fact directed by Ghosn for his personal enrichment and were not necessary from a business standpoint.”
Experts believe these are the most serious charges yet against Ghosn since he was dramatically arrested on November 19 as he landed in his private jet at a Tokyo airport.
Ghosn has already won bail once before but under strict conditions such as agreeing not to leave the country and living under surveillance.
When he last won bail, Ghosn walked out of the detention centre in front of the world’s media dressed like a Japanese labourer with a cap and a face mask in an apparent attempt to give reporters the slip.