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Ex-Nissan boss Ghosn wins second bail in Japan

By AFP

Added 25th April 2019 12:19 PM

The 65-year-old auto sector titan paid 500 million yen ($4.5 million) in bail as he faces four charges ranging from concealing part of his salary from shareholders to syphoning off Nissan funds for his personal use.

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Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn. Photo/File

The 65-year-old auto sector titan paid 500 million yen ($4.5 million) in bail as he faces four charges ranging from concealing part of his salary from shareholders to syphoning off Nissan funds for his personal use.

Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn looked set to walk out of his Tokyo detention centre after winning bail on Thursday to prepare his defence against multiple charges of financial misconduct.
 
The 65-year-old auto sector titan paid 500 million yen ($4.5 million) in bail as he faces four charges ranging from concealing part of his salary from shareholders to syphoning off Nissan funds for his personal use.
 
The court was considering an appeal by prosecutors but Ghosn should emerge from the Kosuge centre in northern Tokyo later Thursday, barring a last-minute hitch.
 
According to conditions set by the court, Ghosn cannot leave Japan and is subject to other restrictions to prevent him from attempting to flee or destroy evidence relating to the case.
 
His lawyer Junichiro Hironaka said that these conditions included restrictions on seeing his wife, who prosecutors suspect has made contact with people involved in the case.
 
Hironaka told reporters Ghosn's bail conditions included an "approval system" to see his wife Carole.
 
"If the court approves it, she will be able to meet him," he said.
 
Ghosn denies all the charges, with a spokesperson for the executive saying on Monday he would "vigorously defend himself against these baseless accusations and fully expects to be vindicated".
 
The spokesperson said Ghosn was being detained "under cruel and unjust conditions, in violation of his human rights, in an effort by prosecutors to coerce a confession from him".
 
On Monday, he was hit with what experts have described as the most serious charges yet as prosecutors accused him of syphoning off $5 million of Nissan cash transferred from the company to a dealership in Oman.
 
He also faces two charges of deferring some $80 million of his salary and hiding this in official documents to shareholders and seeking to shift personal investment losses to the firm during the 2008 financial crisis.
 
A Nissan spokesman said in a statement that the company's "internal investigation has uncovered substantial evidence of blatantly unethical conduct".
 
"Further discoveries related to Ghosn's misconduct continue to emerge," he added.
 
Ghosn has already been granted bail once, posting $9 million and vowing not to leave Japan and to live in a small court-appointed apartment in central Tokyo -- a far cry from his former luxury suite.
 
Last time he left the detention centre in northern Tokyo, he was dressed in a cap, face mask and workman's uniform in an apparent attempt to evade dozens of journalists from around the world hoping to snap a picture of the fallen tycoon.
 
The bizarre stunt was cooked up by one of his lawyers, Takashi Takano, who later apologised for "tainting" the reputation of his client, who usually appears in public in sharp suits.
 
- 'Tell the truth' -
Ghosn was preparing to hold a much-anticipated news conference to "tell the truth" about his case but he was re-arrested shortly beforehand to face questioning about the alleged $5 million embezzlement.
 
Clearly aware he was about to return to custody, Ghosn pre-recorded a video in which he attacked "backstabbing" Nissan executives of a "plot" against him, as they feared closer ties with French partner Renault.
 
Japanese media reported on Tuesday that the French firm had offered a "management integration proposal" to Nissan, which was poised to reject it as they believe it does not provide equality to the Japanese company.
 
Unless re-arrested over further allegations, Ghosn will be free to organise his defence ahead of a possible trial that is likely to take months to prepare.
 
Ghosn's lead lawyer Junichiro Hironaka has told reporters that a trial as early as the autumn was "not possible for various reasons".
 
His lawyers have demanded he be tried separately from Nissan, which also faces charges for submitting the suspect financial documents, and have voiced fears he will not receive a fair trial.
 
The dramatic case has thrown the international spotlight on the Japanese justice system, derided by critics as "hostage justice" as it allows prolonged detention and relies heavily on suspects' confessions.
 
Deputy prosecutor Shin Kukimoto at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office told AFP it was "extremely regrettable that (the court) approved his bail even as it recognised that the accused had planned to work with people related to the case".
 
The court has also "recognised there was fear over destroying evidence of the crime", Kukimoto added.
 

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