Nissan ex-chair Carol Ghosn's release on bail approved by Japanese court

  • Nissan ex-chair Carol Ghosn's release on bail approved by Japanese court

Nissan ex-chair Carol Ghosn's release on bail approved by Japanese court

Nissan's former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, was awaiting release from the Tokyo Detention House on Thursday after he paid 500 million yen ($4.5 million) in bail.

Prosecutors have appealed the bail decision, but if it is rejected, the once-feted executive will be free to leave the detention center where he has been in custody since April 4 to prepare for his criminal trial expected later this year.

He was initially released last month, but then re-arrested on April 4 on the new charges, returning to the same Tokyo detention centre where he had previously spent 108 days following his first arrest in November.

He has been charged with falsifying financial documents in under-reporting post-retirement compensation and breach of trust in diverting Nissan money and having it shoulder his personal investment losses.

Ghosn, 65, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, says he is innocent. He contends the compensation he allegedly underreported was never decided on or paid and the payments considered to be a breach of trust were legitimate.

For that release, his defense team offered special conditions such installing a surveillance camera at the entrance to a specified residence for the former star executive and promising to use a cellphone and the internet only under specified conditions. The latest release requires similar restrictions, including not leaving the country, according to the court.

The dramatic case has thrown the global spotlight on the Japanese justice system, derided by critics as "hostage justice" as it allows prolonged detention and relies heavily on suspects' confessions. Later, this was bumped up to 44.4%, and Nissan reciprocated by buying 15% of Renault shares.

Mr Ghosn was the architect of the alliance formed between Japan's Nissan and French carmaker Renault, and brought Mitsubishi on board in 2016.

Nissan has promised to strengthen its corporate governance, but its image has suffered and sales have fallen, especially in France and Japan where Ghosn is well known. The former Nissan and Renault chairman has denied the charges against him and has said he was the victim of a boardroom coup by Nissan executives opposed to closer ties.

Nissan declined to comment directly on the emails, while reiterating that misconduct by Ghosn and his former aide, Greg Kelly, is "the sole cause of the chain of events".

A Nissan spokesman said in a statement that the company's "internal investigation has uncovered substantial evidence of blatantly unethical conduct".

A Tokyo court set a new condition for bail that Ghosn can not meet or otherwise communicate with his wife Carole without prior permission, according to his defense lawyer. In Japan, trial preparations tend to take months.

That indictment relates to allegations that the auto boss made a multi-million-dollar payment to a Nissan distributor in Oman, and that as much as $5m was funnelled to an account controlled by Mr Ghosn.