Versailles Denies Prior Knowledge Ghosn's Wedding Was Private

(Bloomberg) -- The Versailles palace, the posh venue for the Marie-Antoinette-themed wedding of former Renault SA boss Carlos Ghosn, said it had no idea the event was a private rather than a corporate affair.

No document indicated that the party wasn’t of an “institutional nature,” the state-owned chateau said in an emailed statement Tuesday, adding that its responsibilities don’t include identifying guests unless it’s for security purposes.

Renault had flagged to French authorities Ghosn’s use of Versailles because it amounted to a “personal benefit” worth 50,000 euros ($56,000) under a corporate sponsorship contract. While a Ghosn family spokeswoman said last week the former chairman and CEO would pay back the proceeds, the incident drew attention to his jet-setting lifestyle and marked the first instance of potential misconduct identified by the French carmaker. The fallen titan has been in jail in Japan since Nov. 19 on charges of financial crimes, which he has denied.

Birthday Party?

In 2016, Renault signed a 2.3 million euro-agreement with Versailles for the restoration of its Salon de la Paix, part of the famous Hall of Mirrors wing, according to the chateau statement. The contract allowed Renault to hold public relations events at the palace worth as much as a quarter of the total donation, it said.

The chateau also confirmed a report in Les Echos last week that another party was held at the palace in 2014. It was rented for 160,000 euros, it said, and documents from Renault also gave no indication it wasn’t institutional. The newspaper suggested the 2014 event for 200 guests was part of Ghosn’s 60th birthday celebrations, although was organized as a corporate event for Renault and partner Nissan Motor Co.

The Ghosn family spokeswoman denied the report, saying that the family didn’t recall seeing a birthday cake or a mention of it at the event. Ghosn celebrated his birthday the following day at a restaurant in the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, she said.

After his arrest in Japan, Ghosn was ousted by Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, the other Japanese partner in the alliance. He also resigned last month as chairman and chief executive officer of Renault, in which the French state is the most powerful shareholder. His downfall has triggered tension within the car-making pact.

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