Published: Tue, March 05, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Ghosn lawyer says court OKs bail, rejects appeal

Ghosn lawyer says court OKs bail, rejects appeal

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has been granted bail by a Tokyo court after serving more than three months in prison over accusations of financial misconduct.

After two previous applications failed, the Tokyo district court approved a third request from his new legal team and set bail at ¥1 billion (£6.8 million).

The decision is a win for Ghosn's recently revamped legal team as they await his trial on charges of aggravated breach of trust and under-reporting his compensation at Nissan for almost a decade to the tune of $82 million.

But prosecutors swiftly appealed that decision and demanded that Ghosn - the architect of Nissan's automaking partnership with France's Renault and once one of the global auto industry's most celebrated executives - remain in jail pending his trial.

Prosecutors filed their objection to Ghosn's release within hours of the announcement he was going to be granted bail.

The former head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance has been detained since he was arrested on November 19.

Hironaka, who has a reputation for securing acquittals for high-profile clients in a country where 99 percent of cases result in conviction, said there was a "realistic" chance that Ghosn would eventually be found innocent of all charges.

It is highly unusual in Japan for courts to grant bail to suspects who continue to maintain their innocence.

Public opinion is likely to have played a role in the court's bail decision, said Shin Ushijima, a former prosecutor and lawyer. Late Tuesday, the Tokyo District Court rejected an appeal from prosecutors.

Hironaka questioned why the case had been brought against Ghosn now, arguing the allegations date back a decade, and would have been known about by Nissan executives. "People in general thought (the detention period) is too long".

There was a heavy media presence outside the Tokyo detention centre where Ghosn is being held, with throngs of reporters setting up ladders to get a clear sight over the tall fence.

Ghosn's new lawyer Hironaka, who has earned the nickname "the acquitter" for his court record and the "razor" for his mental sharpness, vowed a "completely new legal strategy" to obtain his client's release.

Ghosn, who turns 65 on Saturday, has spent more than 100 days in a 4.8 square meter (52 sq ft) cell. In his first court appearance in January, the former chief executive said he was a target and victim of corporate politics.

On Monday, the head of his defence, Junichiro Hironaka, said he was optimistic Mr Ghosn would be granted bail.

In an interview later with Japan's Nikkei newspaper, Ghosn said that Nissan executives opposed to his plans for closer ties with Renault were behind the allegations against him.

On Monday, Ghosn's family said in a statement they would appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Council over the business tycoon's prolonged detention.

There is also no plea deal mechanism that would allow Ghosn to agree to lesser charges for a lighter sentence.

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