French investigators said Wednesday they were stepping up their investigation into two parties thrown by embattled auto titan Carlos Ghosn at the Palace of Versailles, including his lavish 2016 wedding.
The prosecutor’s office in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, which had been leading the probe, said it had been handed to an investigating magistrate, which means that Ghosn — who jumped bail in Japan in December — could soon face charges in France.
The big-spending former chief of Japan’s Nissan and France’s Renault 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.
The first party, on March 9, 2014, was officially held to celebrate the alliance between Nissan and Renault, which had turned 15.
But it also happened to coincide with Ghosn’s 60th birthday and most of the guests were friends and family of the businessman, leading to suspicions that it was, in fact, a birthday bash.
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Ghosn, 65, returned to Versailles in October 2016 to exchange vows with his wife Carole.
Versailles waived the usual 50,000-euro rental fee for the Marie Antoinette-themed wedding in what could amount to a further misuse of company resources.
He is also being investigated by France’s tax fraud office over suspicious financial transactions between Renault and its distributor in the Gulf state of Oman, as well as over contracts signed by Renault’s and Nissan’s Dutch subsidiary RNBV.
The car industry was left reeling after Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo in November 2018 on charges of financial misconduct at Nissan.
He spent 130 days in detention in Japan before being placed under house arrest, but slipped past police out of the country, back to his native Lebanon.
The tycoon has denied all the charges against him and vowed to take Renault to court to claim millions of euros in unpaid pension and retirement pay.