PARIS: French prosecutors investigating a party that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn threw for his wife at the sumptuous Versailles palace will in the next few weeks ask judges to examine the case, bringing a prosecution a step closer.
The plan to hand over the case to judges was disclosed to Reuters by an official with the prosecutor's office in Nanterre, near Paris, which has been handling the investigation into the 2016 party.
The judges have wider powers than prosecutors to pursue a criminal case.
Prosecutors have been investigating whether Ghosn knowingly abused his position as head of the Renault-Nissan alliance by obtaining use of Versailles palace, the former residence of French kings, without paying for it out of his own pocket.
He has previously denied any wrongdoing over the party, saying he initially believed the use of the venue was a gift and was not aware that Renault would have to foot the bill.
Asked by Reuters to comment, Jean-Yves Le Borgne, one of Ghosn's legal team, said Ghosn had done nothing wrong over the party, but there may have been a misunderstanding between Versailles and party planners working for Ghosn.
He added Ghosn had offered to pay back the 50,000 euro (US$55,470) cost of renting the venue for the party.
Renault did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokeswoman for Versailles palace said it was clear at the time the party took place that the event was presented as corporate in nature, and that the ultimate client the venue was dealing with was Renault-Nissan.
Ghosn last month escaped to Lebanon from Japan where he was on bail awaiting trial on charges of financial misconduct. He says the Japanese charges were fabricated as part of a plot to oust him from the Renault-Nissan alliance.
(Additional reporting by Simon Carraud, Elizabeth Pineau, Gwenaelle Barzic, Sarah White and Gilles Gillaume; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Mark Potter)