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Carlos Ghosn's fortune is dwindling as life on the run proves expensive – Financial Post

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Life on the run is proving expensive for Carlos Ghosn. The cost of his escape included US$14 million in forfeited bail money while the operation that saw him celebrate New Year’s Eve in Beirut could have cost US$15 million or more.

That includes US$350,000 for the private jet that spirited the former auto executive from Osaka to Istanbul and millions of dollars for his multi-country extraction that would have taken a team of as many as 25 people half a year to plan, according to a private security expert who said he wasn’t involved and asked not to be identified given the nature of the operation.

Such outflows have seen Ghosn’s fortune shrink by 40 per cent since he was arrested more than a year ago at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, according to estimates by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His fortune is now calculated to be about US$70 million, down from around US$120 million at the time of his first court appearance a year ago.

‘Mission Impossible’

In fiery, freewheeling form at a two-and-a-half hour press conference in Beirut on Wednesday, Ghosn, 65, repeatedly proclaimed his innocence against allegations he understated his income and raided corporate resources for personal gain, accused Japanese prosecutors, government officials and Nissan Motor Co. executives of conspiring to topple him, and insisted he would clear his name.

“I am used to what you call mission impossible,” he said in response to questions from the assembled reporters. “You can expect me in the next weeks to take some initiatives to tell you how I’m going to clear my name.”

That might include a tell-all book. Ghosn plans to publish the story of his arrest, according to a report by Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

His downfall has already seen him lose millions in payouts. Last year, Nissan cancelled retirement and stock-linked compensation and Renault SA said he won’t benefit from a non-compete agreement he signed in 2015 and stock-based payments that were conditional on his staying at the company. Many of the charges against him centre on retirement payments, totalling more than US$140 million, which he hadn’t yet received.

French Investigations

That may be just the start. French investigations examining the possible misuse by Ghosn of Renault’s money to host lavish parties and pay consulting fees are at a preliminary stage. The former auto executive was already hit with a US$1-million penalty as part of a September settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to disclose the retirement payments.

At his press conference, Ghosn claimed he had done nothing untoward in hosting an event at the Palace of Versailles. Regarding the SEC fine, Ghosn’s lawyers said previously, “We are pleased to have resolved this matter in the U.S. with no findings or admission of wrongdoing.”

Ghosn’s U.S. law firm, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, declined to comment on Bloomberg’s wealth estimates or on the SEC settlement. Ghosn’s Lebanese lawyer also declined to comment.

Nissan is looking at bringing legal action against Ghosn in Lebanon, people familiar with the company’s plans said, to recover money it claims he used improperly. The carmaker is trying to evict him from the pink villa in Beirut to which he still has access. Nissan purchased it for US$8.75 million, renovated it and furnished it for him, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“Ghosn’s flight will not affect Nissan’s basic policy of holding him responsible for the serious misconduct uncovered by the internal investigation,” the Yokohama-based automakeer said on Tuesday.

Authorities may be looking to seize some of his assets. In Switzerland, where Ghosn reportedly banks with Julius Baer Group Ltd., Swiss authorities received a legal-aid request from the Tokyo District Attorney’s Office a year ago, a spokeswoman for the agency that received the notice said. It examined the request before forwarding it to the Zurich prosecutor’s office in March. A spokesman for the Zurich prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the nature of the request or what they are doing with it.At Japan’s request, Interpol issued a so-called Red Notice in Ghosn’s name, making it known to other law enforcement authorities that the country considers him a fugitive.

It’s not clear if any of Ghosn’s assets have been seized. In criminal court cases in Japan, a defendant’s assets cannot be frozen or confiscated until a court verdict is reached, according to Taichi Yoshikai, a law professor at Kokushikan University. There are exceptions in civil cases, but it’s unclear how this will be applied when a defendant is overseas, he said.

Wealth Assumptions

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, which rarely makes public comments, posted an English-language statement on its website Thursday saying Ghosn had only himself to blame for his strict bail conditions. It vowed to bring him to justice in Japan. Ghosn had been “propagating both within Japan and internationally false information on Japan’s legal system and its practice,” Justice Minister Masako Mori said.

Renault declined to comment.

Bloomberg’s calculation of Ghosn’s net worth assumes none of his assets at the time of his arrest — which included shares in Renault and Nissan now valued at about US$60 million — have been seized or sold.

Even if that is the case, the costs that come with being the world’s most famous runaway will continue to be formidable. Legal bills for fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low came to US$15 million, according to an October deal with U.S. federal prosecutors. Efforts to burnish Low’s reputation cost US$1.1 million over seven months, according to the New York Times. Such expenses are likely sizeable enough to pressure even a fortune as large as that of the Ghosn family. Still, some costs may be lower than expected. The US$350,000 contract for Ghosn’s Osaka to Istanbul flight was to be paid in two tranches. The charter company has so far only received the first half.

Bloomberg.com

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Tentative deal between union workers and beef producer Cargill struck | CTV News – CTV News Calgary

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With less than a week to go before workers were set to go on strike at Cargill’s High River, Alta. beef processing plant, the company says a tentative deal has been reached.

The company announced the development on Wednesday and says it is “encouraged by the outcome” of recent talks.

“After a long day of collaborative discussion, we reached an agreement on an offer that the bargaining committee will recommend to its members. The offer is comprehensive and fair and includes retroactive pay, signing bonuses, a 21 per cent wage increase over the life of the contract and improved health benefits,” Cargill wrote in a statement to CTV News via email.

The company adds it also “remains optimistic” a deal can be finalized before the strike deadline.

“(We) encourage employees to vote on this offer which recognizes the important role they play in Cargill’s work to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. While we navigate this negotiation, we continue to focus on fulfilling food manufacturer, retail and food service customer orders while keeping markets moving for farmers and ranchers,” it wrote.

The United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union (UFCW) Local 401 was expected to go on strike on Dec. 6.

It rejected the most recent attempt at a deal on Nov. 25 by a 98 per cent margin.

‘FAIR OFFER’

According to a statement from UFCW Local 401, the negotiating team engaged in “a marathon day” of talks with the company on Tuesday.

“Late in the evening, our bargaining committee concluded that they were in receipt of a fair offer and that they were prepared to present that offer to their coworkers with a recommendation of acceptance,” it wrote in a statement.

The union says the tentative deal will “significantly improve” the lives of Cargill workers and will be the ‘best food processing contract in Canada.”

Highlights from the deal include:

  • $4,200 in retroactive pay for many employees;
  • $1,000 signing bonus;
  • $1,000 COVID-19 bonus;
  • More than $6,000 total bonuses for workers three weeks before Christmas;
  • $5 wage increase for many employees;
  • Improved health benefits; and
  • Provisions to facilitate a new culture of health, safety, dignity and respect in the workplace

While UFCW Local 401 president Thomas Hesse calls the deal “fair,” he will support workers on the picket line if they decide to reject the proposal.

“If they do accept it, I’ll work with them every day to make Cargill a better workplace,” Hesse said in a statement. “I will do as our members ask me to do.

“I respect all of the emotions that they feel and the suffering that they have experienced.”

Employees are expected the vote on the new deal between Dec. 2 and 4.

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Afterpay delays vote on $29 billion buyout as Square awaits Spain’s nod

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Afterpay Ltd will delay a shareholder meet to approve Square Inc’s $29-billion buyout of the Australian buy now, pay later leader, as the Jack Dorsey-led payment company awaits regulatory nod in Spain.

The investor meet was set for Dec. 6, but Afterpay said it would likely take place next year as Square, which has rebranded itself to Block Inc, is likely to get an approval from the Bank of Spain only in mid-January.

The delay is unlikely to impact the completion of Australia‘s biggest deal, which is set for the first quarter of 2022, Afterpay said.

“We continue to believe the risks of the transaction closing are minimal,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Chami Ratnapala said in a brief client note.

Meanwhile, Twitter Inc co-founder Dorsey is expected to focus on Square after stepping down as chief executive of the social media platform as it looks to expand beyond its payment business and into new technologies like blockchain.

Afterpay shares fell more than 6%, far underperforming the broader Australian market, tracking Square’s 6.6% drop overnight in U.S. market on worries over the Omicron variant.

 

(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian, Sameer Manekar and Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Rashmi Aich and Arun Koyyur)

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Canada Goose under fresh fire in China over no-return policies

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China’s top consumer protection organisation has warned Canada Goose Holdings Inc against “bullying” customers in China with its return policies, just three months after the winterwear brand was fined for false advertising.

The premium down jacket manufacturer has been a hot topic on Chinese social media in recent days over its handling of a case involving a customer who wanted a refund of her purchases amounting to 11,400 yuan ($1,790.17) after finding quality issues.

She said she was told by Canada Goose that all products sold at its retail stores in mainland China were strictly non-refundable, according to her account which went viral online.

State-backed media such as the Global Times newspaper later cited Canada Goose as denying that it had a no-refund policy and that all products sold at its retail stores in mainland China were refundable in line with Chinese laws. The company did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

That has not failed to quell criticism of the brand.

“No brand has any privileges in front of consumers,” the government-backed China Consumer Association (CCA) said in an opinion piece posted on its website on Thursday morning.

“If you don’t do what you say, regard yourself as a big brand, behave arrogantly and in a superior way, adopt discriminatory policies, be condescending and bully customers, you will for sure lose the trust of consumers and be abandoned by the market,” the CCA said.

Representatives of the brand were summoned for talks on Wednesday by the Shanghai Consumer Council to explain its refund policy in China.

The dressing down of Canada Goose comes as tension between China and Western countries has fuelled patriotism and driven some shoppers to turn to home-grown labels.

Canada Goose was also fined 450,000 yuan in September in China for “misleading” consumers in its ads.

($1 = 6.3681 Chinese yuan renminbi)

 

(Reporting by Sophie Yu, Brenda Goh; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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