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Ghosn had lawyer set up multiple dummy companies, divert money: sources

Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn leaves his lawyer's office in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on April 3, 2019, the day before he was re-arrested. (Mainichi/Naoki Watanabe)

TOKYO -- Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who was re-arrested on April 4 on suspicion of causing the automaker $5 million yen in losses, had a Lebanon-based lawyer establish multiple dummy companies, and company money was apparently transferred to him through these firms, those familiar with the matter said.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office's special investigation unit appears to suspect that Ghosn attempted to cover up the allegedly illegal money transfers.

The latest arrest warrant accuses Ghosn of aggravated breach of trust by causing Nissan losses totaling $5 million (about 563 million yen). He allegedly had Nissan Middle East FZE, the automaker's United Arab Emirates subsidiary, remit $15 million in total to its Omani sales agent SBA between December 2015 and July 2018, $5 million of which was then transferred to GFI, an investment company that Ghosn effectively owns in Lebanon.

According to the sources, GFI is a dummy company, and an Indian man who is an executive of SBA served as its chief executive officer.

The money in question was remitted from Nissan Middle East to SBA and then to the Indian executive's personal account. The funds are believed to have been subsequently transferred to the GFI account via several other dummy companies.

The lawyer who established the dummy companies at the instruction of Ghosn died several years ago, according to those knowledgeable of the matter.

However, the special investigation unit has confiscated records of money remittances from SBA's office and records including those of relevant bank accounts from Ghosn's residence in Beirut, Lebanon. The unit apparently confirmed the complicated route of the money transfers via such dummy companies after questioning those involved.

In a related development, it has emerged that some funds transferred to GFI may have been funneled to an investment company that Ghosn's son established in the United States.

(Japanese original by Kenji Tatsumi, Kazuhiro Toyama and Suyon Kim, City News Department)

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