Ghosn claims arrest was due to plot, treason at Nissan

Carlos Ghosn as spoken with a Japanese newspaper the first time he has made a comment to the media since his arrest last year

Carlos Ghosn has spoken to a Japanese newspaper the first time he has made a comment to the media since his arrest last year

In an interview with The Nikkei business daily posted online Wednesday, Ghosn says there is "no doubt" that "plot and treason" were committed by Nissan executives determined to throw off a plan of deeper integration between Nissan and two other auto companies.

Ghosn said that "there was a plan" to integrate the three alliance partners more closely, creating "autonomy under one holding company", which he discussed with Nissan president Hiroto Saikawa last September.

The financial daily said it spoke with Ghosn for 20 minutes earlier in the day at the Tokyo Detention Center, where the 64-year-old star executive has been held since Nov 19. And Saikawa, a former protege of Ghosn who led the campaign against his ex-boss, said he intends to step down in coming months after reforming the poor governance he says weakened the Japanese carmaker.

Asked about the alliance's future, Ghosn said, "I can not speculate".

He has been refused bail twice and deemed a flight risk, despite promising to pay for a private flat, security guards, an ankle bracelet and to surrender his passports so that he can be released during the investigation.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance narrowly held onto its place as the top seller of cars past year despite the spectacular arrest of its boss Carlos Ghosn, figures showed Wednesday, beating Volkswagen and Toyota.

During that time the French-Brazilian-Lebanese businessman earned superstar status in Japan for leading Renault's alliance with the struggling Nissan, which Mitsubishi joined later. Nissan's report into alleged misconduct was for the "purpose of getting rid of me", he was quoted as saying. The second member of the alliance Mitsubishi Motors Corp sold 1.22 million units recording a rise of 18% in its sales.

The allegations against him were the result of "plot and treason", Ghosn told Nikkei. Renault owns 43.4% of Nissan, despite the latter contributing more profits. "I will defend (myself)", according to the Nikkei.

He said that Nissan's legal department had signed off on the purchase of luxury properties for him in Brazil and Lebanon - which Nissan claims were paid for improperly.

"All the evidence is with Nissan and Nissan forbids all employees to talk to me", he added.

Nissan Motor Co.'s global sales totalled 5.65 million vehicles a year ago, while Renault SA of France, which owns 43 per cent of Nissan, recorded global sales of 3.9 million vehicles.

The interview was his first opportunity to defend himself in person after his arrest on November 19 and solitary detention, aside from one public hearing earlier this month.

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