Renault board to meet Thursday as Ghosn remains in detention

Paris (AFP) –


The board of directors at French automaker Renault will hold an unexpected meeting Thursday night, two days after its chief executive Carlos Ghosn made his first court appearance in an alleged Japanese fraud case, a union source told AFP.

Agenda items have not been disclosed to board members, Fabien Gache, a CGT union official at Renault, told AFP.

Ghosn, 64, has been detained for over seven weeks in Tokyo after his arrest on charges of under-reporting his salary for years as head of Renault's alliance partner Nissan.

Since then he has been charged with a host of allegations of financial impropriety, though he has yet to be formally charged and has denied all the claims.

Ghosn, once a towering figure in the auto industry, appeared handcuffed at a court hearing Tuesday seeking to secure his release before trial, a request which was denied by a judge who declared he was a flight risk.

One of his lawyers later conceded that Ghosn could spend a further six months behind bars before his case comes to trial.

That has raised worries over the viability of keeping him on as Renault's chief executive, a post he has held since 2005.

Nissan as well as Mitsubishi, the third alliance partner, have removed Ghosn as chairman, but Renault has kept him on while appointing a deputy CEO to ensure day-to-day management.

The French automaker has said internal investigations have found no signs of wrongdoing by its chief during his tenure.

The French government, which holds a 15 percent stake in Renault, has also stood by Ghosn so far, saying he must benefit from the presumption of innocence.

But Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne told French radio this week that "Obviously, if this situation continues we'll have to draw the consequences."