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Renault’s embattled ex-boss Ghosn ‘to reimburse’ €50,000 Versailles wedding rental

Jean-Paul Pelissier/REUTERS file picture | Carlos Ghosn and his wife Carole pose for photographers at the Cannes Film festival in southern France, on May 26, 2017.

Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman and CEO of French carmaker Renault, on Friday announced he was willing to “reimburse” a €50,000 gift from the chateau of Versailles, reportedly linked to his lavish wedding at the royal estate.

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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 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," he said in a statement Friday.

Ghosn will reimburse Versailles for the rental, his spokeswoman Devon Spurgeon said.

On Thursday, Renault issued a statement saying that a company investigation had found that Ghosn had personally benefited from “an exchange worth €50,000 in the framework of a philanthropic accord” with Versailles. Renault said it would alert French judicial authorities about the gift.

The carmaker started investigating Ghosn’s past activities after he was arrested in November in Tokyo, where he has been charged with falsifying financial reports and breach of trust. Ghosn – long one of the most influential executives in the global auto industry – denies wrongdoing.

French newspaper Le Figaro reported that Versailles allowed Ghosn to host his 2016 wedding reception on its grounds in exchange for Renault’s donations to the chateau, resplendent home to France’s last kings.

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.

As part of that arrangement, Renault asked for permission to rent out space in the Grand Trianon mansion on the Versailles grounds for a “dinner” on October 8, 2016, the chateau said in a statement. It estimated the rental was worth €50,000.

Versailles officials would not comment on whether Ghosn himself made the request, or confirm that the dinner was in fact his wedding reception.

Probe into Renault-Nissan alliance

Meanwhile, an official with the carmaker said that Renault and Nissan are also conducting a joint investigation into Ghosn’s activities as head of the alliance between them, Netherlands-based Renault-Nissan BV.

Ghosn led both Renault and Nissan and championed their alliance as it grew into the world’s biggest-selling automaker. He has faced a stunning downfall since his arrest.

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

The Japanese case includes suspicions that Ghosn under-reported his income as chairman of Nissan and falsified financial reports. Ghosn has said fellow executives opposed to forging closer ties between Nissan and Renault schemed against him.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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