Former Renault and Nissan head Carlos Ghosn and his wife invited people to a $260,000 Carnival party in Brazil in 2018 and charged it to his employers, documents observed by AFP show, a move Ghosn’s lawyer defended as a routine corporate function for a multinational CEO.
News of the party is the recent evidence of Ghosn’s expensive lifestyle to emerge as his time as among the top executives in the auto industry deals with scrutiny after his arrest in Tokyo.
According to documents observed by AFP, which verifies a report in the Express magazine, Ghosn invited eight couples to see the Carnival parade in Rio de Janeiro in February last year from a beach-side luxury hotel.
While the guests were required to pay their own air fare, the invitations mentioned that local teams would take charge of transport, lodging and other costs.
“On behalf of Mr and Mrs Ghosn, I have the pleasure to inform you that they would be delighted if you would accept to be their guest at the 2018 Rio Carnival,” the December 2017 email invitation reads.
“You will be responsible to book your flight and the team will take care of you from the Rio airport,” it stated, adding that the guests would be staying at the beachside Hilton Hotel located in Copacabana.
The event required expensive security measures consisting of two bullet-proof vehicles which were put at the guests’ disposal.
Nissan’s Brazilian subsidiary then sent a bill of $257,872 (around 227,000 euros at present exchange rates) to the Renault-Nissan holding company based in the Netherlands.
The Dutch firm coordinates the operations of the alliance between the two automakers, which Ghosn built into the world’s top-selling automotive group before his surprising downfall on charges of under-reporting his earning.
Ghosn has rejected any wrongdoing, but remains in detention awaiting a trial in Japan.
“Friendly relations do not preclude business relations, they can even help them,” Ghosn’s French lawyer Jean-Yves Le Borgne informed AFP.
“We’re told it involved Carlos Ghosn’s personal relationships, but does that mean we can conclude there was some form of misuse of funds at the alliance?” he stated.
Among the guests were Mario Saradar of the family-owned Lebanese banking group, where Ghosn sits on the board; and Lebanese lawmaker Misbah Ahdab.
American property developer Harry Macklowe was also invited, so was Khalil Daoud, head of the Lebanese postal service.
“Before getting indignant, we should see if they were truly not involved in any Renault-Nissan business,” Le Borgne stated, adding that the Lebanese post office “required a large fleet of automobiles.”
Renault has stated it is evaluating Ghosn’s tenure as chief executive, a post he resigned previous month after his dismissal as chairman of Nissan and their other alliance partner Mitsubishi.
Previously this month, Renault stated it told prosecutors about a suspect transaction involving Ghosn’s extravagant wedding at the Versailles Palace outside Paris in 2016.
Versailles waived the normal 50,000-euro rental fee for the wedding under a sponsorship deal signed between the palace and Renault months earlier.
Le Borgne has stated Ghosn is ready to repay the bill.