In his first interview since being arrested, the former Nissan and Renault CEO claims the charges against him are part of 'plot' by Nissan executives.

In a short interview with The Nikkei, Carlos Ghosn said he has "no doubt" his arrest was part of a "plot" hatched by Nissan executives to kill a potential merger with Renault and Mitsubishi.

Ghosn told the newspaper "there was a plan to integrate" Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, and claims he'd discussed these plans with Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa.

Although Ghosn wanted to include Osamu Masuko, Mitsubishi's CEO, in these discussion, Saikawa is claimed to have insisted on keeping the conversation "one-to-one".

Prior to his arrest, Ghosn was chairman and CEO of Renault and the overarching Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. He was also chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors.

Under Ghosn's plan, the three automakers would have united under one holding company, but would have been allowed to enjoy "autonomy" similar to the present situation.

Currently Nissan controls Mitsubishi Motors via a 34 per cent shareholding, and owns a 15 per cent non-voting stake in Renault.

Thanks to the Renault's 1999 rescue of its Japanese partner, it owns 44 per cent of Nissan, and is able to appoint members to Nissan's board and name their preferred CEO. The French state has a 15 per cent stake in Renault.

Ghosn admitted he was a "strong leader", but argued claims he was a dictator were a distorted version of reality created with "purpose of getting rid of me".

He was arrested on November 19, 2018 after touching down in Tokyo. He is accused of understating his salary, shifting currency trading loses to Nissan, and other acts of financial impropriety.

In the interview, Ghosn stated payments made out of the CEO's reserve fund to Saudi businessman Khaled al-Juffali were signed off by "four officers".

He also defended private properties in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Beirut, Lebanon purchased by Nissan for his use as necessary safe places where he could "work and receive people".

Stating these properties were known to everybody and signed off by Nissan's legal department, Ghosn questioned why no-one told him if these purchases were illegal.

Ghosn spoke to the The Nikkei on the 10th floor of the Tokyo Detention Centre where he has been held since his arrest on November 19, 2018.

He has been barred from talking to family and Nissan employees, but, in an unusual move by the Tokyo District Court, was granted a 15-minute — later extended to 20-minute — audience with the media.