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Nissan's damages case against absent Ghosn opens in Japan

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2020, file photo, Nissan's former executive Carlos Ghosn attends a press conference at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK), north of Beirut, Lebanon. A civil court trial began in Japan Friday, Nov. 13, over Nissans demand for 10 billion yen ($95 million) in damages from former Chairman Ghosn over what the automaker claimed was harm it suffered from various financial misconduct.(AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2020, file photo, Nissan's former executive Carlos Ghosn attends a press conference at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK), north of Beirut, Lebanon. A civil court trial began in Japan Friday, Nov. 13, over Nissans demand for 10 billion yen ($95 million) in damages from former Chairman Ghosn over what the automaker claimed was harm it suffered from various financial misconduct.(AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TOKYO – A civil court trial began Friday in Japan over Nissan’s demand for 10 billion yen, or $95 million, in damages from its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn.

The automaker has sued Ghosn over what it says is harm suffered from various types of alleged financial misconduct. Ghosn jumped bail late last year while awaiting a separate criminal trial in Japan.

Ghosn said in a statement Friday from Lebanon that the trial will prove his innocence, “that the suspicions of wrongfulness and charges held against me have absolutely no foundation.”

The civil case is being heard in the port city of Yokohama, where Nissan Motor Co. is based. Nissan filed it in February.

“Nissan carried out a robust and thorough internal investigation that included external lawyers. The investigation concluded that Ghosn intentionally committed serious misconduct,” Nissan said.

Nissan has accused Ghosn of spending company money on such things as homes in Lebanon and Brazil, use of the company jet for family trips and donations to universities in Lebanon it claimed had no business merit.

Ghosn reiterated the charges were “fabricated.” He said questions about his business activities could have been resolved within the company.

“The current Nissan civil lawsuit is an extension to the extremely unreasonable internal investigation with sinister intent by a portion of Nissan’s senior management and the unreasonable arrests and indictments by the public prosecutors,” Ghosn said.