In the month of May, a certain gentleman found himself in the crosshairs of French authorities as one of five individuals targeted in a far-reaching investigation into the erstwhile CEO of Renault, the illustrious Carlos Ghosn. This individual, identified as Divyendu Kumar of Indian descent, had served as the general manager of Suhail Bahwan Automobiles (SBA), a prominent car supplier in Oman, for a full decade from 2008 to 2018.
With great temerity, Mr. Kumar was apprehended in the United Arab Emirates, specifically in the beautiful city of Abu Dhabi, on the 9th day of May in the year of our Lord 2022. Our source, who is privy to the details of the situation, attests to the accuracy of this claim.
A request was promptly lodged with the Ministry of Justice in June of the same year, soliciting the extradition of Mr. Kumar from the welcoming embrace of the Emirates back to the French jurisdiction where he had previously left a mark.
It is worth noting that Mr. Kumar is the first among the quintet of individuals targeted with arrest warrants on the 21st day of April in 2021, as part of a judicial inquiry that commenced in Nanterre in the early stages of 2020, to be captured by the authorities. Prior to his tenure at SBA, Mr. Kumar had distinguished himself in various capacities at the prestigious Tata Motors.
It has come to the attention of the investigating court that Carlos Ghosn and four SBA officials may have participated in a money laundering conspiracy as part of a corrupt and organized cartel.
Among those implicated are Suhail Bahwan, the esteemed billionaire founder of SBA, his two sons, and Divyendu Kumar, the former managing director of SBA. Mr. Kumar is accused of engaging in “organized money laundering,” “corporate asset misuse,” and “continuing corruption,” with Mr. Ghosn as a potential accomplice.
The defense team representing Mr. Ghosn, a 68-year-old former CEO of Renault, declined to comment on his detention. Similarly, neither Renault nor Mr. Ghosn’s legal counsel, Me Kami Haeri, has issued a statement on the matter.
According to a source close to the investigation, there are strong indications that Mr. Ghosn instructed the payment of the Renault bonus to the SBA distributor, “concealed by a number of accounting entries,” with a portion of the bonus allegedly sent to the shell companies of Mr. Ghosn’s assistants.
SBA, which acquired the Omani market in 2005, has steadily expanded its distribution coverage over the years, establishing a strong partnership with Renault. However, in light of the recent arrest warrants, Renault has initiated a strategic assessment of its partnership with SBA. “The review has been concluded and the contract with SBA has not been renewed,” revealed an AFP source familiar with the situation.
Apart from the investigation in Nanterre, Mr. Ghosn is also the subject of a judicial investigation in Paris regarding contracts signed with the subsidiary of Renault Nissan, RNBV. In addition, he has an outstanding arrest warrant from Japan, where he was scheduled to be sentenced for embezzlement before he fled to Lebanon at the end of 2019.