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Tokyo prosecutors eye building another case against Ghosn

In this Oct. 6, 2017 file photo, then Renault Group CEO Carlos Ghosn listens during a press conference at La Defense business district, outside Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tokyo prosecutors are considering building another case against former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, this time in connection with payments the automaker made to a distributor in Oman, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.

The prosecutors are looking at a further charge of aggravated breach of trust, suspecting that some of the automaker's funds paid to the distributor since 2012 when Ghosn was CEO at Nissan were channeled to a company run by Ghosn's family member for personal use, they said. Ghosn was released on bail on March 6 after 108 days in detention over alleged financial misconduct at Nissan.

According to the sources, a total of 3.5 billion yen ($31 million) was transferred to the Omani distributor as sales incentives from Nissan's so-called CEO reserve, a pool of funds Ghosn could use at his discretion, since 2012.

Allegations have emerged that money was transferred from a private bank account that an executive of the Omani distributor opened in Lebanon to the company of Ghosn's family member via an investment firm run by the Omani executive, the sources said.

The prosecutors suspect that the funds provided by the Omani executive were then spent to purchase a yacht worth 1.6 billion yen for use by Ghosn's family and other people, they said.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors' Office is expected to make the final decision on whether to build the case after consulting the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, they said.

Ghosn has already been charged with violating the financial instruments law by allegedly underreporting his remuneration by 9.1 billion yen as well as with aggravated breach of trust in relation to the alleged transfer of private investment losses to Nissan and paying $14.7 million in company funds to a Saudi businessman who extended credit to him.

Ghosn is planning to hold his first press conference, possibly this month, according to one of his lawyers.

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