Nissan top executive Munoz resigns amid broadened Carlos Ghosn probe

FILE Jose Munoz Chairman of Nissan North America speaks at the North American International Auto Show on 9 January 2017 in Detroit Michigan

Ghosn, 64, and alleged co-conspirator Greg Kelly, a fellow Nissan director, were arrested in Tokyo over financial misconduct allegations after a Nissan investigation sparked by a whistleblower.

Ghosn, who remains chairman and CEO of French automaker Renault (RNSDF), was first indicted last month on allegations of under-reporting his income by tens of millions of dollars between 2010 and 2015.

His detention has been extended until Friday and prosecutors are expected to press new charges to try to prolong it further. His lawyers can appeal in a higher court.

Suspects in Japan are routinely held for months until trials start, and Tokyo prosecutors maintain that Ghosn, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, is a flight risk.

Ghosn has strongly denied the allegations against him.

A judge in the Tokyo District Court said during the hearing that keeping Ghosn in jail during the investigation was justified because he posed a flight risk and could hide evidence.

Ghosn's lawyers have argued that the deferred amounts were not fixed commitments and did not need to be disclosed.

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Additionally, the lawyer of former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly, 62, who was indicted with Ghosn on the two charges of violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act, said that the former executive underwent the neck surgery that he required at a hospital in Ibaraki Prefecture after being released on bail on December 25 a year ago, and has since left the hospital.

His future had been in question following the November 19 arrest of Ghosn in Japan and criticism from current Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa.

"I am pleading with the Japanese authorities to provide us with any information at all about my husband's health", Carole Ghosn said. "We are fearful and very anxious his recovery will be complicated while he continues to endure such harsh conditions and unfair treatment". The special investigative unit is now waiting for replies to requests for cooperation made to foreign authorities, but a top official in the prosecutors' office disclosed, "Just how much evidence we will be able to gather is unknown". His temperature had returned to normal by Friday, Otsuru's office said.

Visits from lawyers, family and friends are strictly controlled by prosecutors in Japan, making it hard for suspects to establish a defense or give their side of the story to the media.

Ghosn scandal has sent shockwaves through the automotive industry and has escalated tensions between Nissan and Renault.

But attempts by Renault to transfer Ghosn's chairmanship of the Renault-Nissan board to his French deputy Thierry Bollore appeared to have foundered.

"The review process has examined the compensation of the current Groupe Renault executive committee members for the financial years 2017 and 2018 and has concluded that it is both in compliance with applicable laws and free from any fraud."

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