Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman and CEO of Renault, may have benefited personally from the French carmaker’s funding of renovation work at the Palace of Versailles by holding his wedding reception there.
Renault said in a statement it was investigating the agreement with Versailles and had decided to alert French prosecutors to its preliminary findings.
“As part of compliance audits initiated … on November 23, 2018, it was identified that a contribution of 50,000 euros, under a sponsorship agreement signed with the Château de Versailles, was allocated to Mr. Ghosn’s personal benefit,” Renault said. “The elements gathered so far require additional checks to be carried out.”
A source close to the investigation told CNN that the benefit related to Ghosn’s use of part of the opulent estate outside Paris for his wedding in October 2016.
One of the global auto industry’s most prominent figures, Ghosn has spent more than two months in jail since his arrest in Tokyo on November 19. He has been charged by Japanese prosecutors with financial misconduct and abuse of his position while head of automaker Nissan, which is part of a global alliance with Renault.
Ghosn, 64, denies the charges, but prosecutors have argued successfully that he should stay in jail awaiting trial.
His representatives declined to comment on the Renault announcement.
Renault signed a philanthropy agreement with Versailles in June 2016 to provide about 2.3 million euros ($2.6 million) to restore the “Salon de la Paix,” a spokesperson for the palace told CNN in a statement.
In accordance with French law, Renault was allowed benefits in kind worth up to 25% of the value of its financial support, the Versailles spokesperson said. Renault held a dinner at the estate’s Grand Trianon palace on October 8, 2016, and the use of the space was valued at about 50,000 euros ($56,000), the spokesperson added.
Ghosn’s wedding reception was held at the Grand Trianon on that date. Town and Country Magazine described the event as “fit for a king and queen” replete with actors dressed in 18th century costumes.
Ghosn resigned as chairman and CEO of Renault last month. Renault’s board had resisted calls to fire him but did so after the French government, which owns 15% of the company, abandoned its support for Ghosn.