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French police raid Renault HQ amid probe into Ghosn’s Versailles wedding

Kazuhiro Nogi, AFP | In this file photo taken on March 6, 2019 former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn leaves his lawyer's office in Tokyo after he was released earlier in the day from a detention centre after posting bail.

French police on Wednesday raided the headquarters of Renault while probing a lavish wedding party thrown by ex-CEO Carlos Ghosn at Versailles Palace, the French carmaker and legal sources said.

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Officers in charge of investigating corruption and financial crimes searched Renault’s headquarters in the western Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, a source close to the investigation said.

A Renault spokesman confirmed the search was under way and said the company was “fully cooperating with the authorities”.

Ghosn, the big-spending former chief of both Renault and its Japanese partner Nissan who is awaiting trial in Japan on charges of financial misconduct, hired the entire Palace of Versailles when he got married in October 2016.

He is suspected of wrongly obtaining use of the sumptuous home of 17th century “Sun King” Louis XIV in exchange for a sponsorship deal between the state-owned palace and Renault.

Versailles waived the usual 50,000-euro rental fee for the Marie Antoinette-themed wedding in what could amount to misuse of company resources, as well as tax evasion, if the benefit was not declared to French authorities.

'He thought Versailles was free'

Ghosn’s lawyer Jean-Yves Le Borgne, told AFP in February that the businessman “thought it was free” because he was never billed by Versailles and was ready to pay the money back.

In June, police searched Ghosn’s home outside Paris for evidence in the probe.

The 65-year-old former auto titan was arrested in Japan in November as he stepped off his private jet at Tokyo airport.

He was kept behind bars for over 100 days before being granted bail and sacked from all his management roles.

Ghosn is accused of under-reporting millions of dollars in income at Nissan and of of using company funds for personal expenses charges he denies.

His dramatic downfall stunned the business world and laid bare tensions in the alliance between Renault, Nissan and their smaller Japanese partner Mitsubishi.

(AFP)

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