Ex-Nissan chief Ghosn granted release on bail by Tokyo court


TOKYO, April 25 .  Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn was granted release on bail Thursday by a Tokyo court, after being indicted for a fourth time earlier this week over further allegations he misused cooperate funds.

The Tokyo District Court set bail at 500 million yen (4.5 million U.S. dollars), which has already been paid, with the 65-year-old’s release from detention for a second time pending the court’s decision on an appeal by prosecutors.

Ghosn was first released from detention in early March on 1-billion-yen (around 9-million-U.S. dollar) bail under 15 conditions set by the court, including that he remain in Japan, was allowed only restricted access to mobile phones and computers, remained under limited camera surveillance at his residence, and not contact other Nissan executives involved with the case.

This time around, the court has stipulated that under his bail terms Ghosn is not to meet his wife Carole, sources said, as she is suspected by prosecutors of having possibly contacted people involved in the case to ensure their stories line up with her husband’s.

Prosecutors have again expressed their concerns to the court that Ghosn may attempt to tamper with the case, including by trying to conceal evidence.

The latest charges facing the ex-auto tycoon are connected to an allegation of aggravated breach of trust, with prosecutors believing that a portion of Nissan funds paid to a distributor in Oman were ostensibly funneled back to Ghosn for personal use.

Such use includes the alleged purchase of a 1.6-billion-yen (14.30 -million-U.S. dollar) luxury yacht for use by Ghosn’s family and others.

The prosecutors believe that in this instance, the misuse of funds cost Nissan around 5 million U.S. dollars in losses.

Ghosn was previously released on bail after serving 108 days at a detention facility in Tokyo, but was rearrested on April 4.

He was first arrested on Nov. 19 on charges of under-reporting his remuneration for years in Nissan’s securities reports presented to Japanese regulators and is also facing a separate charge of aggravated breach of trust, for allegedly transferring private investment losses to Nissan.

Ghosn, who holds Brazilian, French and Lebanese citizenship, also had a criminal complaint filed by Nissan, over the most recent allegation of aggravated breach of trust.

Ghosn served as Nissan’s chief executive officer following the automaker’s capital alliance made with Renault and as Nissan president from 2000 and its chief executive officer from 2001 to 2017.

Nissan Motor Co. shareholders earlier this month removed Ghosn from its board, severing a near two-decade relationship with the once-feted auto executive who is widely credited for rescuing Nissan from near-bankruptcy in 1999.

As well as being ousted as Nissan chairman after his initial arrest, he was also dismissed as chairman of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and replaced as chairman of Renault SA after he tendered his resignation while in detention in Tokyo.

Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., who comprise the Ghosn-created alliance with Nissan, have said that Ghosn will step down as a director in June.
In a video message released by his lawyers after he was rearrested on April 4, Ghosn maintained his innocence and claimed that he had been the victim of a conspiracy at Nissan involving other executives.

Ghosn’s case has highlighted Japan’s tough judicial system that allows for suspects to be detained for inordinately long periods of time as prosecutors seek to force a confession.
His lawyer Junichiro Hironaka has blasted the system as being akin to “hostage justice.”