Ghosn Leaves Japanese Jail in Disguise, Out on $8.9 Million Bail

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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.

[Image: Nissan]

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  • Twotone Twotone on Mar 06, 2019

    Maybe Ghosn and Meng Wanzhou can rent a flat together. Japan and Canada are not bad places to be under "house arrest." Sounds like five-star resorts compared to Chinese, Russian or US prisons.

  • AnalogMan AnalogMan on Mar 07, 2019

    There’s an old Japanese saying, “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down”. Ghosn stuck out too much, and the Japanese decided to hammer him down. I’ve done business in Japan for many years and have spent a lot of time there. It’s a culture that prizes conformity above all else, with rigid social mores and protocols that demand deference and soft-spoken politeness (which is usually insincere). It’s also a culture deeply mistrustful of foreigners. I suspect Ghosn is just not their kind of guy. His brashness and abrasiveness went against everything that is demanded in Japanese culture. I think his plan to more fully merge Renault and Nissan was the last straw to the proud Japanese, and led to a palace coup. He is probably not the nicest guy, and likely has some skeletons in the closet. Put any senior corporate executive under a magnifying glass and you’ll always find something potentially inappropriate. But I suspect he had more than enough money of his own and better things to do than to blatantly break rules and squeeze a few extra nickels for himself.

  • Danddd Chicago at night is crazy traveling in and out from the 'burbs. Taking the Ike back home around midnight and you'll see racers swerving by at 100mph plus. Dangerous enough we rarely go down there anymore. I plan my city trips between 9:30AM and back out by 1PM to miss the worst traffic.
  • SCE to AUX Good summary, Matt.I like EVs, but not bans, subsidies, or carbon credits. Let them find their own level.PM Sunak has done a good thing, but I'm surprised at how sensibly early he made the call. Hopefully they'll ban the ban altogether.
  • SCE to AUX "Having spoken to plenty of suppliers over the years, many have told me they tried to adapt to EV production only to be confronted with inconsistent orders."Lofty sales predictions followed by reality.I once worked (very briefly) for a key supplier to Segway, back when "Ginger" was going to change the world. Many suppliers like us tooled up to support sales in the millions, only to sell thousands - and then went bankrupt.
  • SCE to AUX "all-electric vehicles, resulting in a scenario where automakers need fewer traditional suppliers"Is that really true? Fewer traditional suppliers, but they'll be replaced with other suppliers. You won't have the myriad of parts for an internal combustion engine and its accessories (exhaust, sensors), but you still have gear reducers (sometimes two or three), electric motors with lots of internal components, motor mounts, cooling systems, and switchgear.Battery packs aren't so simple, either, and the fire recalls show that quality control is paramount.The rest of the vehicle is pretty much the same - suspension, brakes, body, etc.
  • Theflyersfan As crazy as the NE/Mid-Atlantic I-95 corridor drivers can be, for the most part they pay attention and there aren't too many stupid games. I think at times it's just too crowded for that stuff. I've lived all over the US and the worst drivers are in parts of the Midwest. As I've mentioned before, Ohio drivers have ZERO lane discipline when it comes to cruising, merging, and exiting. And I've just seen it in this area (Louisville) where many drivers have literally no idea how to merge. I've never seen an area where drivers have no problems merging onto an interstate at 30 mph right in front of you. There are some gruesome wrecks at these merge points because it looks like drivers are just too timid to merge and speed up correctly. And the weaving and merging at cloverleaf exits (which in this day and age need to all go away) borders on comical in that no one has a bloody clue of let car merge in, you merge right to exit, and then someone repeats behind you. That way traffic moves. Not a chance here.And for all of the ragging LA drivers get, I found them just fine. It's actually kind of funny watching them rearrange themselves like after a NASCAR caution flag once traffic eases up and they line up, speed up to 80 mph for a few miles, only to come to a dead halt again. I think they are just so used to the mess of freeways and drivers that it's kind of a "we'll get there when we get there..." kind of attitude.