Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show
Japanese prosecutors charged former Nissan chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn on Monday with underreporting his income for eight years.
He was arrested Nov. 19 and has been held in a Tokyo jail since, but has not been formally charged until now.
Ghosn is known as the father of the Nissan Leaf electric car, after committing the company publicly to the project in 2008 and bringing the car to market in late 2010. He's also presided over Nissan through a period of prosperity through a close alliance with Renault and then, more recently, another alliance with Mitsubishi.
He also led French automaker Renault, became CEO of Nissan in 2001, after the French automaker bought Nissan out of near-bankruptcy, and was one of the only non-Japanese executives at a prominent Japanese company.
Along with the charges, prosecutors also charged Nissan as a company as culpable for the financial misreporting, along with American former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly, who has been accused of helping Ghosn falsify income statements from 2010 to 2018.
Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept, 2017 Tokyo Motor Show
In a statement Monday, Nissan said the company "takes this situation extremely seriously. Making false disclosures in annual securities reports greatly harms the integrity of Nissan's public disclosures in the securities markets, and the company expresses its deepest regret." The company also said it will correct those past financial reports.
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Nissan stripped Ghosn and Kelly of their roles at the company on Nov. 23, and installed CEO Hiroto Saikawa as chairman.
Ghosn and Kelly have denied the allegations in Japanese media reports. If they plead not guilty, the case is likely to go to trial, and Ghosn could face a fine of up to $6.2 million (700 million yen) and 10 years in prison, Nikkei reports. The formal charges will also allow prosecutors to hold Ghosn in prison for another 20 days.
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According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Ghosn stands accused of reporting only about half of the actual $88 million he earned over the eight-year time-frame by failing to report deferred income and the purchase of several homes around the world that the company bought for him to use.
Ghosn's family is Lebanese, and he was raised in Brazil. He has split his time between those locations, Paris and Tokyo running Renault and Nissan, though the homes reportedly bought with Nissan money included houses in New York and Amsterdam.