Fugitive Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn on Wednesday denounced the “dark forces” in the company that forced him out of his post and said he was being vilified for the sake of bringing down Japan’s biggest automaker.
Ghosn pleaded not guilty to charges of securities fraud and breach of trust after his first hearing before a Tokyo court. He was released on bail of 50 million yen ($446,000).
“They are the same forces that made it impossible for Nissan to save itself from enormous losses, and it is a conspiracy of the highest magnitude,” he said, according to a written statement.
Ghosn’s court statement followed a massive restructuring plan, unveiled in Tokyo Wednesday, which indicates a drastic restructuring in Japan that includes closing or consolidating several plants and slashing more than 15,000 jobs.
Nissan declined to confirm the details of Ghosn’s statement.
“The company confirms the contents of Mr. Ghosn’s statement,” Nissan spokeswoman Tasumi Fukuoka said in an emailed statement. “As is customary when we hold news conferences, our company says that we have no comment or additional details that we can share. At the same time, we would like to confirm that he is not available to comment with regard to the case.”
The indictment came after he was indicted on 19 separate counts related to financial wrongdoing by Reporters.
Although many of the allegations are not new, the severity of the case and Ghosn’s continued ability to retain a large degree of power within Nissan have sparked public outrage.
Wednesday’s announcements leave Japan’s government, whose support helped bail out the company, scrambling to restore investor confidence in the automobile giant and convince a skeptical public that the company’s culture has changed.
Since the arrest, Nissan has been virtually paralyzed and its shares have plummeted as the public has tried to fathom what the 53-year-old Ghosn’s downfall means for the company, whose other international chief executive, Hiroto Saikawa, had once led the charge against Ghosn’s risky business tactics.
“There is no doubt that this case has left the company stranded,” Yukihiko Yamada, a senior economist at the Bank of Japan, told Bloomberg earlier this month. “That’s why they’re trying to convince the public this has not compromised its operations, and that they’ve put in a plan to control expenses, and that they should be able to bring it back on track.”
Ghosn left the court with his wife Carole, who was seen entering through the main gate.
At the hearing Wednesday, he faced charges of illegally understating Nissan’s earnings by $45 million over five years through his former financial officer Greg Kelly. Prosecutors have also said they plan to file an additional charge of breach of trust that alleges Ghosn understated Nissan’s losses in the past.
Under Japanese law, he is required to appear in court twice a week, in a process that can take weeks. He reportedly plans to leave Japan by the end of the month, travelling to Brazil, Russia, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.