Ghosn Leaves Japanese Jail in Disguise, Out on $8.9 Million Bail
Former Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has left a Tokyo prison after posting bail to the tune of $8.9 million. His 108-day detention ended with the industry titan being escorted out out the building while wearing a disguise that entailed a cap, surgical mask, glasses, and workman’s clothes.
Ghosn left the Tokyo Detention House around 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon, already beset by camera crews. According to reports, the former auto executive was steered away from a black van and pushed into a small Suzuki befitting his disguise — despite its failure to fool the media. He’s now in a secret, court-appointed residence where he’ll be under constant surveillance as he attempts to prepare his next move.
“I am also grateful to the NGOs and human rights activists in Japan and around the world who fight for the cause of presumption of innocence and a fair trial,” Ghosn said prior to his release in a statement. “I am innocent and totally committed to vigorously defending myself in a fair trial against these meritless and unsubstantiated accusations.”
According to Bloomberg, the Japanese government has expressly forbid the former automotive executive from leaving the country while also stipulating that he have limited Internet access and be placed under video surveillance.
“There will be very intense surveillance,” Francois Zimeray, the French lawyer representing Ghosn’s wife and four children, told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday. “It’s not total liberty. But compared to the nightmare of his incarceration, with minimal rights in the Kosuge jail, for him it’s an improvement.”
Junichiro Hironaka, Ghosn’s lawyer, said the Japanese legal system was one of “hostage justice” and warned that the handling of his client’s case has forced the international community to take notice. He also suggested the arrest was the direct result of an industrial conspiracy aimed at getting Ghosn off Nissan’s back — something the accused has also said in multiple interviews following his arrest.
“Nissan’s performance has declined in the last two years,” he said. “If you look at the results and the strengths of Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault, you can see that there is a problem. I did not expect what happened, but all this led to treason, conspiracy.”
Ghosn’s French lawyers also submitted a file to the United Nations’ human rights office in Geneva that they claim proves his rights had been violated during detention in Japan. Several human rights groups have also weighed in, calling the country’s 99-percent conviction rate suspicious while simultaneously accusing Japanese courts of holding people without just cause.
“Nissan does not have any role in decisions made by courts or prosecutors, and is therefore not in a position to offer a comment,” Nissan spokesman Nicholas Maxfield said in response. However, we already know that Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa knew of a plot to merge the two companies and admitted that the strategy had become incredibly unpopular with Japanese shareholders and staff. Nissan staff were also the ones to blow the whistle on Ghosn’s alleged financial misdeeds.
Ghosn was removed as chairman at Nissan and Mitsubishi shortly after his November arrest and resigned as chairman of Renault in January. Nissan has scheduled an shareholders meeting on April 8th to vote on the removal of Ghosn and co-defendant Greg Kelly from the board. But both are likely more interested in their upcoming legal battle — which Hironaka said likely wouldn’t begin for months, according to Automotive News.
From Automotive News:
Ghosn’s co-defendant, Greg Kelly, was released on bail Dec. 25. An American director at Nissan, Kelly is accused of helping Ghosn falsify company financial filings to hide some $80 million in deferred compensation. Kelly is restricted from leaving Japan.
Ghosn faces a separate indictment for breach of trust. That charge alleges he temporarily shifted 1.85 billion yen ($16.5 million) in personal swap contract losses to Nissan and had Nissan pay $14.7 million to a business associate who allegedly helped Ghosn handle the red ink.
If found guilty, Ghosn faces up to 10 years in prison. Ghosn and Kelly deny all charges.
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