Ousted Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has been arrested again on new charges while Renault's board has cut his pay and pension.
The moves were made a day after Ghosn himself promised, via a brief Twitter statement, to tell his side of the story.
"I'm getting ready to tell the truth about what's happening. Press conference on Thursday, April 11," read the only entry in English on a newly opened Twitter account @carlosghosn, which carried an indication Twitter had verified the account was genuine.
Reuters reported Japanese prosecutors arrested Ghosn again today (4 April) on suspicion of trying to enrich himself at the automaker's expense.
Outside legal experts described the move to the news agency as highly unusual in Japan for someone who had already been released on bail.
The prosecutors said Ghosn had caused Nissan Motor US$5m in losses over a two and a half year period to July 2018, in breach of his legal duties to the company and with the goal of personal gain.
The report cited the Kyodo news agency as saying – without citing sources – the losses involved the shifting of funds through a dealer in Oman to the account of a company Ghosn owned effectively.
Ghosn had said in an interview broadcast by French TV: "I am innocent. It's hard, I have to admit it, and I call on the French government to defend me, and to defend my rights as a citizen." Ghosn, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, said in an interview aired on Thursday with French TV stations TF1 and LCI.
In a statement to Reuters from a US-based spokesman, Ghosn said the arrest was an "outrageous and arbitrary" attempt to silence him by unidentified people at Nissan.
"Why arrest me except to try to break me? I will not be broken," he said in the statement.
Ghosn's legal team told Reuters prosecutors had confiscated Ghosn's wife's passport and mobile phone as well as documents needed to prepare for his trial.
Japanese broadcaster NHK said over a dozen officials from the prosecutor's office visited Ghosn's residence early on Thursday and asked him to submit to questioning. By late morning, Japanese media said, he had been taken back to the detention centre where he spent 108 days after being first arrested in November.
"After being wrongly imprisoned for 108 days, my biggest hope and wish today is for a fair trial," Ghosn added in the statement to Reuters.
"I was scheduled to present my story in a press conference next week; by arresting me again, the prosecutors have denied me that opportunity, for now, but I am determined that the truth will come out. I am confident that if tried fairly, I will be vindicated."
Ghosn's lead lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, said the latest arrest was meant to silence Ghosn and that he would release a video statement Ghosn had planned to deliver at the 11 April news conference.
Reuters noted that, under Japanese law, prosecutors would be able to hold Ghosn for up to 22 days without charge. The new arrest opened up the possibility that he would be interrogated again without his lawyer present as is normal in Japan.
"It's uncommon for someone to be re-arrested a month after being granted bail. In most cases, re-arrest would occur immediately following bail," aid Nobuo Gohara, a lawyer who heads Gohara Compliance and Law Office, not involved in the Ghosn case, told Reuters.
"Multiple arrests suggest that the prosecutor may be concerned about their chances of winning a guilty verdict."
Sources earlier told Reuters Nissan partner Renault had alerted French prosecutors after uncovering suspect payments to a Renault-Nissan business partner in Oman while Ghosn was chief executive.
Ghosn's spokesman had previously said payments of US$32m made over nine years were rewards for the Oman firm being a top Nissan dealer. Such dealer incentives were not directed by Ghosn and the funds were not used to pay any personal debt, the spokesman told Reuters.
Nissan had previously established its own regional subsidiary made questionable payments of over $30m to the Oman distributor, Suhail Bahwan Automobiles (SBA).
Evidence sent to French prosecutors showed that much of the cash was subsequently channeled to a Lebanese company controlled by Ghosn associates, the sources told the news agency
A Renault statement said its board had waived Ghosn's non-compete undertaking and acknowledged his loss of rights to shares for several financial years.
His fixed remuneration for the 2018 financial year was EUR1,000,000.
The board stripped him of EUR224,000 for the 2018 financial year.
He also lost pension which several Reuters sources pegged at about EUR770,000 a year.