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Renault board to meet as Ghosn faces crucial hearing

AFP  |  Paris 

The board of French automaker will meet Thursday night ahead of a new court appearance in for Carlos Ghosn, who could be facing fresh fraud charges and more time behind bars.

No agenda items have been disclosed to board members, a at Renault, Fabien Gache, told AFP.

The gathering comes two days after Ghosn, once a towering figure in the auto industry, made his first court appearance over alleged financial impropriety during his years as of Renault's alliance partner

The 64-year-old former has been languishing in a Tokyo detention centre for more than 50 days as he fights multiple allegations of financial misconduct.

He has been formally charged with under-declaring his income by tens of millions of dollars in an apparent bid to quash accusations he was overpaid.

He also faces questioning in connection with alleged attempts to transfer personal investment losses to and making unnecessary payments to a Saudi associate from company funds.

Ghosn's requests Tuesday to be released before trial were rejected by a who declared he was a flight risk. One of his lawyers later conceded that Ghosn could spend a further six months behind bars before his case comes to trial.

Japanese have suggested new charges could be levied against him on Friday, which could ensure he remains jailed. He may be accused of understating his salary from 2015 to 2018, three years more than the original charge that he under-reported some five billion yen (USD 44 million) in income over five years from 2010.

He could also face charges for breach of trust, reports say. The claims have heightened worries over the viability of keeping him on as Renault's chief executive, a post he has held since 2005.

French daily reported Thursday that the board meeting was one of several informal gatherings held regularly since Ghosn's arrest to discuss developments in the case.

Nissan said earlier that its board had also met Thursday and that directors had received "an updated report" on its own investigations into Ghosn's alleged misconduct.

Press reports say Nissan last weekend put two executives close to Ghosn on leave of absence, suggesting that the internal investigation into the alleged misconduct could be spreading. Jose Munoz, the chief performance officer, and human resources have not been replaced during their absences, the reports said.

Nissan as well as Mitsubishi, the third alliance partner, have removed Ghosn as chairman, but has kept him on while appointing a deputy to ensure

The French automaker has said internal investigations have found no signs of wrongdoing by its chief during his tenure. But pressure on Ghosn rose further Thursday after French daily Liberation reported that he had not been paying French income taxes since 2012, after moving his fiscal residency to the

Both and the French economy ministry declined to comment, but it was an unwelcome revelation for the of a company in which the French state owns a 15 percent stake.

"The of a French company should pay his taxes in France," said in a speech last month.

Japanese media, citing Ghosn's lawyers, said Thursday that he was suffering from a high fever and unable to meet investigators for questioning.

At his dramatic court appearance on Tuesday, Ghosn appeared to have lost a lot of weight in detention but otherwise seemed in good health.

"I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations," the told the court.

In a career spanning decades, during which he won praise for turning around the struggling Japanese car maker, he said he had "always acted with integrity" and had never before been accused of any wrongdoing.

But afterwards Ghosn's said it would be "very difficult" to win bail and it could be months before his case is heard. The has stood by Ghosn so far, saying he must benefit from the presumption of innocence.

But Minister told French radio this week that "obviously, if this situation continues we'll have to draw the consequences.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, January 10 2019. 22:05 IST