Sunday 20 October 2019

Ex-Nissan chairman Ghosn ‘leaves detention’ after posing bail

Ghosn was reportedly released from Tokyo Detention Centre on Wednesday.

A man believed to be Carlos Ghosn leaves Tokyo Detention Centre (Kyodo News via AP)
A man believed to be Carlos Ghosn leaves Tokyo Detention Centre (Kyodo News via AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn appears to have left detention in Tokyo after posting 1 billion yen (£6.8 million) bail.

Ghosn left Tokyo Detention Centre in disguise, wearing a surgical mask, glasses, a hat and a construction worker’s outfit.

Ringed by security guards, he was driven away in a silver van and did not speak to reporters standing watch.

His identity could not immediately be confirmed with authorities, but the resemblance was clear.

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A masked man believed to be Carlos Ghosn leaves Tokyo Detention Centre (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

Ghosn, the former head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance, is charged with falsifying financial reports and breach of trust.

Tokyo District Court confirmed the bail was posted earlier in the day after a judge rejected an appeal from prosecutors requesting his continued detention.

That cleared the way for Ghosn to leave the facility after spending nearly four months there since his arrest on November 19.

Ghosn’s wife Carole and one of his daughters were seen leaving the detention centre earlier in the day.

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Carole Ghosn (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

Before his release, Ghosn, who turns 65 on Saturday, issued a statement reasserting his innocence.

“I am innocent and totally committed to vigorously defending myself in a fair trial against these meritless and unsubstantiated accusations,” he said.

A date for his trial has not yet been set.

One of Ghosn’s lawyers, Junichiro Hironaka, said his legal team had offered new conditions for his release, such as a surveillance camera at his doorway and a promise not to use the internet.

He is allowed to make voice calls but cannot travel abroad.

Suspects in Japan are often detained for months, especially those who insist on their innocence, like Ghosn.

Some legal experts, including Mr Hironaka, have criticised the system as “hostage justice”, saying the long detentions encourage false confessions.

Prosecutors say suspects may tamper with evidence and should not be released. Two of Ghosn’s earlier requests to be released on bail were rejected.

Some critics of Japan’s legal system hope that Ghosn’s release, so many weeks before preparations for his trial are complete, may set a precedent, helping to bring about change.

Ghosn says he did not falsify financial reports because the compensation he is alleged to have under-reported was never paid or decided on.

The breach of trust allegations centre on a temporary transfer of his investment losses to Nissan’s books that he says caused no losses to the car maker. The charge also points to payments to a Saudi businessman that he says were for legitimate services.

Nissan declined comment on the criminal case against Ghosn but said an internal investigation had found unethical conduct.

The firm has dismissed Ghosn as chairman, although he remains on the board pending a decision at a shareholders’ meeting.

Ghosn’s family says he has lost weight while in detention, and he looked thinner in his court appearance. Mr Hironaka said he is in good spirits.

Ghosn thanked his family and friends who “stood by me throughout this terrible ordeal”.

PA Media

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