March 11, 2019 / 7:57 PM / 5 months ago

French prosecutors probing ex-Renault boss Ghosn's wedding costs: reports

PARIS (Reuters) - French prosecutors have opened a preliminary inquiry into how former Renault chief Carlos Ghosn financed his 2016 wedding, the Figaro newspaper and Agence France-Presse said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn sits inside a car as he leaves his lawyer's office after being released on bail from Tokyo Detention House, in Tokyo, Japan, March 6, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

The French carmaker said last month it had found evidence, following an internal probe, that it had footed some of the bill. It established in its own investigation that a 2016 Renault sponsorship deal with the Chateau de Versailles outside Paris included a 50,000 euro ($56,000) personal benefit to Ghosn, and said it would alert prosecutors.

The prosecutor’s office in Nanterre near Paris, which the reports said was handling the investigation, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ghosn was ousted as the head of Nissan and later removed as Renault CEO after his arrest in Japan last November over allegations of financial misconduct linked to his salary. He was released on a $9 million bail only last week.

In the wake of the scandal, Renault began its own review of payments to Ghosn.

The former executive has denied any wrongdoing associated with the wedding.

“The event space at Versailles was made available to him without charge, and Mr Ghosn was unaware that the use of the space would be charged against Renault’s allotted usage,” his French-based lawyer Jean-Yves Leborgne said in February when the allegations came to light, adding that Ghosn had paid for all of his wedding expenses.

Renault declined to comment on Monday.

The carmaker had agreed before the wedding to sponsor 2.3 million euros of renovations at the historic Versailles palace in return for a credit granting it services from the chateau worth 25 percent of that amount, or 575,000 euros, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The rental fee was deducted from Renault’s credit for use of the Grand Trianon building at Versailles on Oct. 8, 2016, when Ghosn and his second wife, Carole, hosted their wedding reception, the source said.

The event had already attracted public attention for its opulence and Marie Antoinette-themed costumes.

($1 = 0.8894 euros)

Reporting by by Sarah White and Gilles Guillaume; Editing by Mark Potter

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