Carlos Ghosn claims he was arrested to thwart merger with Renault


The Renault-Nissan alliance's future has been shrouded in uncertainty following the arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn.

Fallen auto titan Carlos Ghosn said his arrest for alleged financial crimes was the result of a "plot" against him by Nissan Motor Co. executives trying to prevent the Japanese carmaker's deeper integration with Renault SA.

Although Ghosn wanted to include Osamu Masuko, Mitsubishi's CEO, in these discussion, Saikawa is claimed to have insisted on keeping the conversation "one-to-one".

The interview, the first Ghosn has given since his stunning arrest on November 19, was conducted at the Tokyo detention facility where he has languished ever since.

Mr Ghosn faces three charges in Japan of financial misconduct, including understating his income and aggravated breach of trust. He repeated his denials of any wrongdoing and said, "People translated strong leadership to dictator, to distort reality" for the "purpose of getting rid of me".

But the French government's desire to hold more influence over Nissan, of which Renault holds a 43.4 percent stake with voting rights, is at odds with the Japanese automaker's insistence on maintaining its independence.

Ghosn pushed for a closer integration between Nissan and Renault before his arrest, including a possible merger that Bloomberg reported previous year, but Nissan resisted a combination unless it would gain clout in more areas.

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Mr Ghosn brushed off accusations that his tenure at the helm of Nissan was authoritarian and said it was a narrative propagated by those who sought to remove him from his position.

"In an interview with Les Echos business newspaper and Agence France-Presse published on Thursday, Ghosn also called the charges and accusations a 'distortion of reality meant to destroy his reputation".

As for his luxury properties in Rio de Janeiro and Beirut, Nissan claims that the purchases of the homes were improperly paid for by a subsidiary company, although Ghosn objects, stating that the purchases were approved by the legal department.

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.

Ghosn said he still hopes to explain his situation to the Renault board. "I won't flee, I will defend [myself]", Ghosn said.

It is unclear what the long-term prospect of the alliance will be if Ghosn is no longer at the helm.

In the interview, Ghosn reiterated his insistence that he is innocent and said others in the company schemed to force him out with a "plot and treason".