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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

France respects Japan 'sovereignty' in Ghosn case: minister

But Le Drian stresses ex-Nissan chief's rights on G-7 sidelines

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at a press conference.   © Reuters

DINARD, France -- Paris respects the sovereignty of Japan's judicial system over the criminal case against former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn, France's foreign minister has told his Japanese counterpart.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian revealed Saturday that he discussed the case with Japan's Taro Kono the day before in a one-on-one meeting on the sidelines of the Group of Seven foreign ministers' meeting.

The meeting came a day after Ghosn was arrested for a fourth time since November on charges relating to financial misconduct while at the helm of Nissan.

While stressing that France respects "the sovereignty and independence of the Japanese judiciary," Le Drian said he also reminded Kono of "our attachment to the presumption of innocence and the full rights of consular protection." Many in France contend that Japan has not treated Ghosn fairly.

The conversation "had absolutely no impact on the Japan-France relationship," Kono told reporters.

In a recorded interview shortly before his Thursday arrest, Ghosn urged Paris to "defend me and to preserve my rights as a citizen trapped in an unbelievable chain of events abroad."

Ghosn had already been charged with financial misconduct involving underreporting his compensation, as well as with aggravated breach of trust tied to his personal trading losses. Ghosn's latest arrest is over the alleged transfer of about $15 million (2 billion yen) from a Nissan subsidiary to the Omani distributor. Prosecutors claim that about $5 million of this money was then funneled to a bank account over which Ghosn had control.

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