Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn told a Tokyo court on Tuesday January 8th that he was innocent of any crimes, in his first public appearance since his arrest on November 19th, an event which rocked the business world.
Entering the court handcuffed and with a rope around his waist, the auto industry veteran mounted a passionate defence against a string of financial misconduct allegations.
"Your Honour, I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations," he told the Tokyo District Court in a clear and steady voice.
As reported by AFP, prosecutors have charged Ghosn, who led a dramatic turnaround at the Japanese automaker over the past two decades, with falsifying financial reports in underreporting his income by about 5 billion yen ($44 million) over five years, until 2015.
They also say he is suspected of having Nissan take on his investment losses from the financial crisis.
In his first court appearance, Ghosn on Tuesday rebutted the allegations point-by-point and said he had the option to leave Nissan but had decided to stay on.
"A captain doesn't jump ship during a storm," he told the court in a strong voice.
A towering figure in the auto industry, Ghosn is credited with turning around a struggling Nissan, an achievement which also gave him a high profile rare for foreign executives in Japan.
While at the company, he forged an unlikely three-way alliance between Mitsubishi Motors, Renault and Nissan that now outsells any other rival group.