Tokyo: Ousted Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn has posted $9 million in bail, paving the way for his release after more than 100 days in custody as he awaits trial on financial misconduct charges.
The former titan of the global auto industry is set to be released from the Tokyo Detention House on Wednesday, giving the once-feted executive fresh impetus to build a defence against what he has described as “meritless” charges.
This follows a last ditch appeal by prosecutors to keep Ghosn in prison, where he has been confined to a small, unheated room since his 19 November arrest. But the Tokyo District Court rejected the motion on Tuesday.
The court confirmed on Wednesday that Ghosn had posted the 1 billion yen ($9 million) bail, among the highest ever in Japan.
Earlier in the day, a car from the Embassy of France, where Ghosn holds nationality, arrived at the detention centre in eastern Tokyo as media helicopters swirled overhead.
Hundreds of reporters, photographers and TV crews were gathered outside the facility, many of whom had camped overnight to secure positions.
The court granted bail to the former chairman of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors after his lawyers gave assurances that Ghosn would remain in Tokyo, surrender his passport to his lawyer and submit to extensive surveillance.
Ghosn has also agreed to set up cameras at the entrances and exits to his residence, and is prohibited from using the internet or sending and receiving text messages. He is banned from communicating with parties involved in his case, and permitted computer access only at his lawyer’s office.
He faces charges of aggravated breach of trust and under-reporting his compensation to the tune of $82 million at Nissan for nearly a decade. If convicted on all charges, Ghosn faces up to 15 years in jail.
“I am innocent and totally committed to vigorously defending myself in a fair trial against these meritless and unsubstantiated accusations,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
The release would allow Ghosn — the architect of Nissan’s automaking partnership with Renault and Mitsubishi - to meet his new legal team frequently and build a defence ahead of trial.
Last month Ghosn hired lawyer Junichiro Hironaka, nicknamed “the Razor” for his success at winning acquittals in several high-profile cases, to replace Motonari Otsuru, who once ran the prosecutor’s office investigating him.
Hironaka’s appointment suggests a shift to a more aggressive defence strategy. He has already said that the charges against Ghosn should have been dealt as an internal company matter and that Japan was out of step with international norms by keeping his client in jail.
The case has cast a harsh light on Japan’s criminal justice system, which allows suspects to be detained for long periods and prohibits defence lawyers from being present during interrogations that can last eight hours a day.
While the bail is a significant step, Ghosn still faces a criminal justice system with a conviction rate of 99.9 percent.
Credited with reviving Nissan in the early 2000s, Ghosn was one of the auto industry’s most powerful figures as head of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance, whose combined sales rank it as one of the world’s biggest automakers.
At the time of his arrest, he had been seeking a full merger of the companies, an idea opposed by many Nissan executives.
However, his arrest has since muddied the outlook for the alliance, which is based on a web of cross-shareholding and operational integration.
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Updated Date: Mar 06, 2019 12:34:50 IST