Tuesday 26 March 2019

Japanese court grants bail to former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn

The former Nissan chairman was arrested in November.

A court has approved the release on bail of former Nissan president and chief executive Carlos Ghosn (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A court has approved the release on bail of former Nissan president and chief executive Carlos Ghosn (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

By Associated Press Reporter

A Tokyo court has approved the release of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn on 1 billion yen (£6.8 million) bail.

The end of his four months of detention in Japan was delayed when prosecutors appealed against the ruling, but French lawyer Jean-Yves Le Borgne said the court rejected the appeal and confirmed the bail decision.

Prosecutors had filed their objection to Ghosn’s release within hours of Tokyo District Court’s announcement that he would be granted bail.

Another lawyer for Ghosn said he would not be able to leave Tokyo Detention Centre until Wednesday at the earliest, even though the appeal was rejected, because bail procedures cannot be done at night.

Ghosn said in a written statement that he is grateful for his family and friends who had stood by him “throughout this terrible ordeal”.

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

The acceptance of Ghosn’s request for bail, his third, came a day after lawyer Junichiro Hironaka said he was confident the motor executive would be released.

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Lawyer Junichiro Hironaka is famous for winning acquittals in Japan (Koji Sasahara/AP)

Mr Hironaka, who recently joined Ghosn’s defence team, is famous for winning acquittals in Japan, a nation where the conviction rate is 99%.

He said on Monday that he had offered new ways to monitor Ghosn after his release, such as camera surveillance. He also questioned the grounds for Ghosn’s arrest, calling the case “very peculiar” and suggesting it could have been dealt with as an internal company matter.

He welcomed the bail decision, telling reporters: “It was good we proposed concrete ways showing how he would not tamper with evidence or try to flee.”

The billion-yen bail set by the court was relatively high but not the highest in Japan.

Among the conditions for Ghosn’s release were restrictions on where he can live, a ban on foreign travel and other promises not to tamper with evidence or try to flee, the court said.

The former head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance has been detained since he was arrested on November 19. He says he is innocent of charges of falsifying financial information and breach of trust.

In Japan, suspects are routinely detained for months, often until their trials start, especially when they insist on their innocence.

Prosecutors say suspects may tamper with evidence and should not be released. Two previous requests submitted by his legal team were denied. His previous defence lawyer, Motonari Ohtsuru, had said Ghosn’s release might not come for months.

Mr Hironaka is among many critics of the Japanese justice system who say such lengthy detentions are unfair. He referred to the situation as “hostage justice”.

Ghosn is charged with falsifying financial reports by under-reporting compensation that he contends was never paid or decided on. The breach of trust allegations centre on a temporary transfer of Ghosn’s investment losses to Nissan’s books that he says caused no losses to the car maker. They also name payments to a Saudi businessman that he says were for legitimate services.

Ghosn’s family had appealed for his release, calling his detention a human rights violation.

Nissan declined comment on the criminal case but said it was working on strengthening corporate governance.

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

“Nissan’s internal investigation has uncovered substantial evidence of blatantly unethical conduct,” company spokesman Nick Maxfield said.

Press Association

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