Spaniard Carlos Sainz became a triple Dakar Rally champion with the Mini X-Raid team at the age of 57 on Friday, while American Ricky Brabec took the motorcycle crown for Honda and ended KTM's 18-year dominance. Brabec is the first American to win the Dakar on two wheels since the grueling endurance event started from Paris through the Sahara desert to the Senegalese capital in West Africa in 1979. Both were also the first winners in Saudi Arabia, a country making its debut as host of an event staged in South America for the past decade. Two times world rally champion Sainz, whose son and namesake races in Formula One for McLaren, ended the final timed stage with a 6 minutes and 21 seconds advantage over Qatar's defending champion Nasser Al Attiyah. Sainz also won Dakar in 2010 and 2018. His three victories have been with different car manufacturers, the first coming with Volkswagen and the second in a Peugeot. "We started winning this Dakar on day one, and we have gone flat out from the beginning," said Sainz, hailed by his son on Twitter as a legend. Brabec had started four previous Dakars, but Friday was only his second finish. "At the end, we put the pieces to the puzzle together," said the American after an event marred by the death of Portuguese rider Paulo Goncalves in a fall last Sunday. "I woke up this morning just happy to ride the last day. And we're here. We won. We had to be smart and focused every day. There's no top guy on the team, we all work together, we're a family. We all won." Triple champion Al Attiyah won the final stage to finish as overall runner-up for Toyota with Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel, a 13 times winner on two and four wheels and Sainz's team mate, completing the top three in his 31st Dakar. "I'm coming back to win next year. I just needed a bit more luck," said the Qatari, who applauded and embraced Sainz at the finish. Two times Formula One champion Fernando Alonso, a Dakar rookie, was fourth in the final stage and finished 13th overall for Toyota. Australian Toby Price, the 2019 motorcycle winner and leading KTM rider, finished third overall behind Chilean Pablo Quintanilla. "It's not the result we came for, but I'm quite glad. Every time that I've lined up and I've made the finish line, I've been on a podium step," said Price. "This, for me, is a big achievement, especially after these two weeks being tough. We just regroup and get ready for the Dakar 2021 and we come back here to try and get that number one plate back." In the truck category, Russian Andrey Karginov took his second Dakar crown in a Kamaz one-two with compatriot and team mate Anton Shibalov. Chile's Ignacio Casale was the quad champion for a third time while American Casey Currie won the lightweight side-by-side (SSV) category introduced in 2017.
TOKYO — Japanese attorneys representing Carlos Ghosn, including lead lawyer Junichiro Hironaka, quit on Thursday following the former Nissan chief's flight to Lebanon from Japan, where he had been fighting financial misconduct charges. Hironaka had been representing Ghosn in his defense against financial misconduct charges. His move, announced Thursday, was widely expected after Ghosn escaped to Lebanon late last month. A second lawyer in Ghosn's three-person legal team, Takashi Takano, also quit on Thursday, according to an official at his office. A person who answered the telephone at the office of the third lawyer, Hiroshi Kawatsu, said she did not know if he still represented the former automotive executive. Hironaka said in a statement that the entire team working on the case at his office will quit but did not outline reasons. He has said before he felt some empathy for Ghosn's reasons for escape, while stressing he had hoped to win vindication in court. Hironaka is respected for winning high-profile cases in this nation where the conviction rate is higher than 99%. Among the cases he has handled is that of Atsuko Muraki, a Welfare Ministry official accused of falsely approving a group to qualify for mail discounts. She was acquitted in 2010. Also Thursday, Nissan released steps it was taking to prevent a recurrence of Ghosn's scandal, and reiterated its denouncement of Ghosn. The automaker said in a report submitted to the Tokyo Stock Exchange that Ghosn had the authority to "single-handedly" determine directors' compensation and such information was not shared with other departments at the company. The underreporting of his future compensation is among the allegations Ghosn faced in Tokyo. In a news conference last week in Beirut, Ghosn insisted again that he was innocent of the charges, which also included breach of trust in diverting Nissan money for his personal gain. He said he fled because he felt he could not expect a fair trial in Japan. Ghosn's flight while he was out on bail awaiting trial means his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely. Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France. Ghosn, who has signed on an international team of lawyers, has expressed willingness to stand trial in Lebanon. Nissan also said that Ghosn obtained compensation from a venture company in the Netherlands set up Mitsubishi, a smaller Japanese automaker with which Nissan set up an alliance under Ghosn. Ghosn has denied wrongdoing about the spending at the venture. Nissan said independent outside directors had been added to its board. It denied recent reports about troubles in the Renault alliance, and has stressed the alliance remains strong. Japanese prosecutors have said repeatedly they are confident they have a case, and Ghosn's flight underlines how he sought to skirt the law. Ghosn led Nissan, based in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo, for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. Reuters contributed to this report.
AMSTERDAM — Carlos Ghosn has launched a court case in the Netherlands against Japanese carmakers Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors, who ousted him as chairman of their alliance last year on charges of embezzlement, Dutch newspaper NRC reported on Saturday. Ghosn is seeking 15 million euros ($16.8 million) in damages from the carmakers, as grave mistakes were made when he was sacked, NRC reported, citing his lawyer. "In the Netherlands, if you want to fire an executive you have to first tell him what he's being accused of, and you have to provide him with the evidence for the accusations. Neither of those things has happened," lawyer Laurens de Graaf told NRC. Ghosn fell from grace late last year when he was arrested in Japan and sacked by Nissan on charges of financial misconduct, which he denies. He has also been fired as the CEO and chairman of French carmaker Renault. Ghosn was freed in April from jail in Japan on a $4.5 million bail. Among other charges of fraud and misconduct, Nissan and Mitsubishi have said Ghosn improperly received $9 million in compensation from their joint venture. Suspect expenses Ghosn made when he chaired Renault and Nissan amounted to about 11 million euros, Renault's board said in June. Ghosn holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, but opted for the fiscally more friendly Netherlands as his tax domicile in 2012. The holding company for the Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance is also incorporated in the Netherlands. The district court in Amsterdam is reviewing the case but has not set a trial date yet, NRC said.
TOKYO — Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn on Friday abruptly canceled plans for what would have been his first press conference since his arrest in November, after journalists had been notified about a briefing just two hours earlier. Ghosn's lawyers called to cancel the event that was to be held at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ), but did not immediately give a reason for the abrupt change, an official at the FCCJ told Reuters.
Automotive News cited a source as saying his family and media team staged a "last-minute intervention" to get him to call off plans to make his case at the press conference, fearing he would be faced with questions he couldn't answer without tipping his legal team's strategy, or that Japanese prosecutors would take a dim view of him publicly criticizing their actions and attempt to revoke his bail. A spokesman for the Ghosn family in Tokyo did not answer his mobile phone and did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. If the conference had not been canceled, Ghosn would have spoken as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hosts national leaders at the G20 leaders gathering in Osaka, including U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, who Ghosn's wife Carole have called on to raise the issue of her husband's treatment by Japan's courts. In May a Japanese court dismissed an appeal by Ghosn to ease a bail restriction that bans him from contacting his wife and rejected a subsequent request to allow him a one-off monitored meeting with Carole. His lawyers have argued that that condition violates Japan's constitution and international law on family separations. Ghosn's movements are also monitored and he is only allowed internet access from a computer at his lawyer's office that records the activity for the court. Once among the world's most feted auto executives, Ghosn is awaiting trial in Japan over charges including enriching himself at a cost of $5 million to Nissan, in a scandal which has rocked the industry and exposed tensions in the automaking partnership between Nissan and Renault SA. Since his initial arrest in November last year, Ghosn has been charged four times for crimes which also include underreporting his Nissan salary and temporarily transferring personal financial losses to his employer's books during his time at the helm of Japan's No. 2 automaker. Ghosn has denied any wrongdoing saying he is the victim of a boardroom coup, accusing "backstabbing" former colleagues of conspiring to oust him from Nissan in order to derail a closer alliance between the Japanese automaker and Renault, its top shareholder.
TOKYO — Japanese automaker Nissan, reeling from the arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn, reported Tuesday that annual profit nosedived to less than half of what it earned the previous year, and forecast even dimmer results going forward. Nissan Motor Co.'s profit for the fiscal year ended March totaled 319.1 billion yen ($2.9 billion), down from 746.9 billion yen the previous fiscal year. Yokohama-based Nissan said profit for the fiscal year through March 2020 will drop to 170 billion yen ($1.5 billion), as its earnings are slammed by restructuring and product development expenses combined with currency-related losses and rising material costs. "This is a very critical situation," Nissan's chief executive, Hiroto Saikawa, told reporters at its headquarters in Yokohama. He said efforts were underway to reshape Nissan's business, especially in North America, where profits have dropped because of incentives and overproduction. Nissan's sales for the fiscal year that ended in March totaled 11.6 trillion yen ($105 billion), down 3% from the previous fiscal year. Vehicle sales for the fiscal year slipped 4% to 5.5 million vehicles. Saikawa promised that Nissan's business will be turned around over the next two or three years. He blamed an overly aggressive sales growth strategy spearheaded by Ghosn, though Saikawa himself has faced criticism over his leadership since he became CEO. Saikawa apologized to customers and shareholders for the shoddy results, giving a short bow rather than the usual deep bow held for nearly a minute by Japanese executives apologizing for corporate wrongdoing. Ghosn, who led Nissan and its alliance with Renault SA of France for two decades, was arrested in November on financial misconduct charges. He has been accused of under-reporting retirement compensation, having Nissan shoulder investment losses and diverting Nissan money for personal gain. He says he is innocent. He says the compensation was never paid or agreed upon, the losses were never suffered and the payments were for legitimate services. The scandal over Ghosn's arrest and dismissal added to Nissan's problems. It logged 9.2 billion ($83 million) in costs for the fiscal year through March from alleged underreporting of Ghosn's compensation. Some analysts say the brand has been tarnished. It is unclear when Ghosn's trial will start, as preparations in Japan take months. Prosecutors wanted Ghosn kept incarcerated during the preparation, but he was released on bail in March, rearrested and then released again in April. The latest release forbids Ghosn, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, from contact with his wife, a restriction that prosecutors have defended as necessary to prevent evidence tampering. Saikawa brushed off speculation that Renault may be pushing for a merger, saying that Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, who recently joined Nissan's board, agrees that fixing Nissan comes first. Renault owns 43% of Nissan. Nissan, which makes the Leaf electric car, March subcompact and Infiniti luxury models, owns 15% of Renault. Saikawa also brushed off a reporter's question about his resignation. He said he planned to hand over the reign to another leader "when the timing is right." For now, he said, he needs to focus on a turnaround.
A Tokyo court has granted bail for the second time to former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn. The 65-year-old was detained for a second time earlier this month. Prosecutors then charged him with aggravated breach of trust.
The court set Ghosn's bail at about 4 and a half million dollars. That's on top of the 9 million dollars he paid the last time he was released on bail.
TOKYO — Japanese prosecutors indicted Carlos Ghosn on Monday on another charge of aggravated breach of trust, a Tokyo court said, the fourth charge against the former Nissan Motor Co Ltd chairman, which his lawyers met immediately with a bail request. The charge came on the day Ghosn's latest detention period was set to expire. Ghosn had been out on bail when authorities arrested him for a fourth time on April 4 on suspicion he enriched himself at a cost of $5 million to the automaker. "We are confident that we have the evidence to successfully prosecute all four cases," an official from the prosecutor's office said at a briefing after the indictment was announced. Ghosn has denied all four of the charges, which include understating his income, and said he is the victim of a boardroom coup. He has accused former colleagues of "backstabbing," describing them as selfish rivals bent on derailing a closer alliance between Nissan and its top shareholder, France's Renault SA. "Carlos Ghosn is innocent of the latest charges brought against him by the Tokyo prosecutors, aided and abetted by certain Nissan conspirators," a Ghosn representative said in a statement. The case has exposed tensions in the Nissan-Renault alliance forged by Ghosn some two decades ago when the French automaker invested in Nissan, then on the brink of bankruptcy — a deal that gave Renault control over its larger partner. Nissan is due to reject a management integration proposal from Renault and will instead call for an equal capital relationship, the Nikkei newspaper said on Monday, citing sources. Ghosn's arrest has also focused a harsh light on Japan's judicial system, which critics refer to as "hostage justice" as defendants who deny their charges are often not granted bail. Under Japanese law, prosecutors are able to hold suspects for up to 22 days without charge and interrogate them without their lawyers present. In accordance with these terms, prosecutors had to indict or release Ghosn by Monday. According to the latest indictment, Ghosn caused a total of $5 million in losses to Nissan from July 2017 through July 2018. During that period, prosecutors allege two separate payments of $5 million were made from the account of a Nissan subsidiary into the account of an overseas dealership. A total of $5 million was subsequently transferred from the dealership's account to another account in which Ghosn had an interest. Nissan said it had filed a criminal complaint against the former chairman in relation to the matter, saying it had determined that some of its overseas payments had been ordered by Ghosn for his personal enrichment. The payments were "not necessary from a business standpoint," Nissan said in a statement. "Such misconduct is completely unacceptable, and Nissan is requesting appropriately strict penalties." A court would likely rule on the bail request on Tuesday, Ghosn's lead lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, told reporters. Before Ghosn's latest arrest, he had been out on $9 million bail for 30 days. He is now being held in the same Tokyo detention center where he was detained for 108 days following his initial arrest on the tarmac at a Tokyo airport in November. Kyodo news agency previously reported, without citing sources, that Nissan funds had been shifted through a car dealer in Oman to the account of a company Ghosn effectively owned. Sources have previously told Reuters that Renault had alerted French prosecutors after uncovering payments it deemed suspect to a partner in Oman. Evidence sent to French prosecutors showed much of the cash was channeled to a Lebanese company controlled by associates of Ghosn, who holds Lebanese citizenship, the sources told Reuters. Ghosn's French lawyer denied the allegations.