PARIS -- A YouTube video of a lavish party given by Carlos Ghosn on March 6, 2014, at the palace of Versailles has drawn the attention of auditors investigating spending by the Renault Nissan alliance.
The party, which Ghosn and his supporters say was held for business purposes to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the alliance, was held on his 60th birthday and reportedly included few Renault or Nissan executives among the 160 celebrity guests.
The video has undercut efforts by Ghosn to improve his public image following his arrest and detention last November in Tokyo on charges that he concealed tens of millions in compensation -- and more recently, that he redirected millions to himself via payments from Nissan's "CEO fund" to a distributor in Oman.
The auditor, Mazars, has reportedly found that that party cost 635,000 euros and was financed by RNBV, the Dutch joint venture that controlled cross-alliance functions. Mazars is said to have identified millions of euros in spending that may have been used for Ghosn's personal affairs during his tenure as head of the alliance.
The professionally produced video shows guests arriving at the palace of Versailles and strolling through a cordon of historical re-enactors. Inside the palace, they munch on canapes and pose for pictures with men and women in powdered wigs and period costumes. A string ensemble plays classical music in the hall of mirrors, while other musicians greet them in various chambers and bedrooms.
A tuxedoed Ghosn is shown greeting guests at a dining table that spans the length of a hallway. A troupe of dancers provides entertainment during the elaborately choreographed meal. The evening is capped off by a fireworks display.
Ghosn remains in detention in Japan after his re-arrest in April on charges related to the Oman payments. He has proclaimed his innocence on all charges. He and his lawyers have portrayed his arrest as a "palace coup" orchestrated by Nissan executives who resisted his plans to further integrate the company with Renault, including a possible merger.