Lawyers call for Ghosn and Nissan case split to ensure fair trial
Lawyers for Carlos Ghosn have asked a Tokyo court to try the ex-Nissan Motor Co boss separately from his former employer, arguing he would otherwise not get a fair hearing to fight charges of financial wrongdoing.
The request marks the first major legal manoeuvre by Mr Ghosn's new legal team since his release on bail last month, as he faces mounting accusations of financial misconduct during his time at the helm of Nissan and partners Renault and Mitsubishi Motors, one of the world's biggest groups.
The case has shaken the global car industry and marked a dramatic fall from grace for an executive once lauded for his rescue of Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy.
Tokyo prosecutors have indicted Mr Ghosn and Greg Kelly, a close associate who served as a director on Nissan's board, on financial-misconduct charges. Nissan is also included in the indictment for false disclosures in securities reports, for which the company has expressed regret.
"No matter how you look at it, having Mr Ghosn sit alongside Nissan at the trial would be peculiar, it would go against his right to a fair trial," said his main defence lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka.
Mr Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo in November after Nissan told prosecutors its own investigation uncovered evidence of his wrongdoing. He spent more than 100 days in a detention centre before being released on €8m bail last month. Mr Ghosn, now ousted as chairman of Nissan, denies the charges, as does Mr Kelly.
Mr Ghosn faces criminal charges in Japan over failing to report around €73bn in salary from Nissan, and for temporarily transferring personal losses onto Nissan's books during the global financial crisis.
"It's right that his lawyers wouldn't want Ghosn to stand trial with Nissan. Nissan will plead guilty and that would clearly influence the mood of the trial," said lawyer Nobuo Gohara. Tokyo prosecutors were not immediately available to comment. Nissan said it could not comment on judicial procedures.