PARIS -- Police searched Renault's corporate headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt near Paris on Wednesday to gather evidence for a probe into spending by former Chairman Carlos Ghosn.
A spokesman for Renault confirmed the police presence, first reported by French magazine L’Express.
French investigators opened a probe earlier this year into whether Ghosn improperly used a Renault sponsorship deal to host his 2016 wedding party at the Chateau de Versailles. The party had already drawn public scrutiny for its opulence and Marie Antoinette-themed costumes.
Earlier this year, Renault said it had found evidence that it had paid part of Ghosn's wedding costs.
L'Express said the probe was recently widened to include spending at Renault-Nissan BV, or RNBV, the Dutch joint venture between Renault and Nissan, and Ghosn’s relationship with an Oman billionaire who was a Nissan intermediary. A spokesman for Ghosn said he has denied allegations related to the Oman distributor, and that he would repay the marriage-related expenses.
The search at Renault’s offices in Boulogne-Billancourt follows a report of a search at one of Ghosn’s homes in L’Etang-la-Ville, west of Paris.
Ghosn, who was the head of Renault, Nissan and the third partner in their alliance Mitsubishi Motors, is facing trial in Japan for alleged financial crimes. He has denied all the charges, which stem from an internal probe by Nissan. Renault has also carried out its own investigation, while a separate audit examined the workings of RNBV.
Following its internal probe, Renault alerted French prosecutors to millions of euros paid by Ghosn to Suhail Bahwan Automobiles, a distributor of Renault and Nissan in Oman, people familiar with the matter have said. Without disclosing the name of the distributor, Renault said it flagged concerns to judicial authorities about "certain payments" to a Middle East-based importer.
Suhail Bahwan has been Renault’s exclusive distributor in Oman since 2004. A Nissan probe raised questions about payments to the company, people familiar with the matter have said. A representative for the Oman-based company didn’t return a request for comment.
The RNBV audit, conducted by the French firm Mazars, highlighted 10.9 million euros ($12.3 million) in spending that went toward trips to the Cannes film festival, Rio de Janeiro Carnival and flights on a corporate jet that may not have been related to Ghosn’s responsibilities, people familiar with the matter have said. It also concluded that the venture lacked oversight.
Auditors also questioned events at Versailles. Ghosn has said he planned to pay back the renowned castle for costs related to his Marie Antoinette-themed wedding party after Renault disclosed he may have improperly used a sponsorship deal to host the event. The carmaker had signaled a “personal benefit” worth 50,000 euros ($56,445) to French authorities.
Reuters contributed to this report