Saturday, 25 May, 2019

Nissan ex-chair Ghosn says he is innocent, ready for defence

Former Nissan chief Ghosn leaves jail after posting bail Japan court grants bail to former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn after three months in jail
Russell Knight | 09 March, 2019, 15:56

That cleared the way for Ghosn to leave the facility after spending almost four months there since his arrest on November 19. Helicopters carrying cameramen from Japanese television stations followed his small van through the city as he travelled to the office of his lawyer. Ghosn bet early on that emissions crackdowns would eventually bring an end to the era of gasoline and diesel engines, so he has championed bringing electric and autonomous cars to the masses, fighting resistance within both companies.

The weeks following the arrest marked a brutal turnabout for the executive accustomed to roaming the world as the head of the alliance linking Nissan, Renault SA of France and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. of Japan. The charge was that Ghosn with Kelly's assistance under-reported the true amount of his bonuses as Nissan's board director between 2010 and 2015.

The Japan court has set Ghosn's bail at Dollars 9 million and applied the bail condition requiring Ghosn not to leave Japan. That cleared the way for Ghosn to leave the facility after spending almost four months since his arrest.

Ghosn's experience has been a humiliating one for a former CEO who commanded huge respect in the auto world.

Ousted Nissan and Renault boss Carlos Ghosn was released from jail on Wednesday after posting $9 million in bail, giving the executive fresh impetus to craft his defence against financial misconduct charges in Japan.

He denies all charges of financial misconduct as he awaits a trial, which he said he would attend "not only because I am legally obligated to do so, but because I am eager to finally have the opportunity to defend myself".

In a shake-up of his legal team last month, Ghosn replaced a former prosecutor known as "the breaker" with Hironaka, who has earned the nickname "the acquitter" for his court record and the "razor" for his mental sharpness.

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

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Prosecutors could still seek to rearrest Ghosn if they file new allegations against him, but for now the auto tycoon is out of detention thought still facing strict limits on his movement and communications.

Ghosn walked free from Tokyo's main jail late Wednesday afternoon for the first time since November, a day after a court accepted the latest of his applications for bail.

Nissan is hoping to avoid having the new Renault chairman assume its chairmanship, as was the case with Ghosn, while the French automaker apparently wants to lead the alliance by having Senard double as Nissan chairman, sources close to the matter said earlier.

Mr Ghosn's release would allow him to meet more frequently with his lawyers and build his defence ahead of his trial in the coming months.

Ghosn proved his mettle at tire company Michelin before he was recruited to help restore profitability at Renault AG, which is 15 percent owned by the French government. The solidity of the alliance with Nissan is of tremendous importance, he said.

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.

The bail agreement does allow Ghosn to travel inside the country but not for more than three days at a time. He gained his release on bail only after offering to adhere to restrictions to prevent that.

Ghosn is awaiting a trial over alleged charges of aggravated breach of trust as well as underreporting his annual income.

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