Unaware of fees: Ghosn ready to repay cost of Versailles wedding: lawyer

Cornelia Mascio
Febbraio 12, 2019

The French vehicle firm said yesterday it would alert prosecutors over concerns that Renault's sponsorship deal with the palace, where Ghosn held a wedding reception in 2016 as well as a party for his wife's birthday, benefitted its former boss to the tune of €50,000 (£43,800).

Jean-Yves Le Borgne, Ghosn's French lawyer, said Ghosn had paid for his wedding expenses but that he used the space without knowing there might be a fee.

The rental fee was deducted from Renault's credit for use of the Grand Trianon at Versailles on October 8, 2016, when Ghosn and his second wife, Carole, hosted their wedding reception at the 17th-century palace, the source said.

The Renault board was informed about the discovery on Wednesday, as reported by Le Figaro, the source added.

The waived bill could amount to the misuse of company resources, as well as tax evasion, if the benefit-in-kind was not declared to French authorities.

The chateau said Renault gave it €2.3 million to fund renovations in a 2016 philanthropic deal; in exchange, Renault was entitled to benefits from the chateau worth up to 25 percent of the total donation. Ghosn's arrest in November in Japan and subsequent indictment on three charges has led to renewed scrutiny of his lifestyle and allegations from his Japanese partners that he was greedy.

Renault has found evidence that it paid part of Carlos Ghosn's wedding costs and is preparing to turn the investigation over to prosecutors, two weeks after the French carmaker's scandal-hit chairman and chief executive was forced out.

"No decision has yet been taken regarding an eventual inquiry", a spokesperson told AFP.

The carmaker replaced Ghosn on January 24, more than two months after his arrest in Japan over allegations of financial misconduct uncovered by Renault's Japanese affiliate Nissan, which he also chaired.

Officially the event was to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Renault's alliance with Nissan, the ambitious project which Ghosn forged into the world's top-selling auto group.

But the date, March 9, actually coincided with Ghosn's 60th birthday and not the launch of the alliance, the reports said, adding that most of the guests consisted of Ghosn's friends and associates as opposed to Renault or Nissan executives.

Renault initially stood by Ghosn, but last month named a new CEO and chairman to replace him as his Japanese legal case drags on.

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