Tokyo court rejects ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn’s bail request

A court in in Japan’s capital has denied ousted Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn’s latest request for bail, made more than two months after his arrest.

The decision by the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday came a day after the 64-year-old pledged – among others – to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, give up his passport and pay for security guards approved by prosecutors to gain release from detention.

The rejection was expected as the court had previously judged Ghosn to be a flight risk who could potentially tamper with evidence.

Ever since his arrest on November 19 on allegations of financial misconduct, Ghosn’s case has been a rollercoaster ride that has kept Japan and the business world gripped.

The once high-flying auto industry titan has been seen in public only once since then, in a dramatic court appearance where the much thinner executive pleaded his innocence in a packed courtroom. 

His wife, Carole Ghosn, has appealed to Human Rights Watch, claiming he is being held in “harsh” conditions and subjected to round-the-clock interrogations intended to extract a confession.

Proclaiming innocence

In his public statement on Monday, Ghosn had also vowed to increase the amount of bail money offered and said he would not contact anyone connected with the case.

“As the court considers my bail application, I want to emphasise that I will reside in Japan and respect any and all bail conditions the court concludes are warranted,” Ghosn said.

Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn ‘arrested for misconduct’ (1:47)

He promised to attend any subsequent trial “not only because I am legally obligated to do so, but because I am eager to finally have the opportunity to defend myself”.

“I am not guilty of the charges against me and I look forward to defending my reputation in the courtroom,” concluded the statement.

However, an official at the Japanese justice ministry told AFP news agency: “There is no system in Japan in which a person accused in a criminal case can be released with such a tracking bracelet”.

“The court sets the bail sum and can also add appropriate conditions such as limitations on where the accused should stay,” added the official.

Ghosn was technically in pre-trial detention after being slapped with three separate charges – all of which he denies. 

Prosecutors believe he under-declared his income in official statements to shareholders between 2010 and 2015 to the tune of some 5bn yen ($46m) in an apparent attempt to avoid accusations he was overpaid.

A second separate but very similar charge is that he continued to do this between 2015 and 2018, under-reporting his income by a further four billion yen.

He also faces a complex charge of seeking to shift personal investment losses onto Nissan’s books and transferring company funds to a Saudi contact who allegedly stumped up collateral for him.

Dramatic downfall

A Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, with work experience in the United States, Ghosn was sent to Nissan in 1999 by Renault SA of France, which owns 43 percent of the Japanese company.

Ghosn led Nissan for two decades, winning admiration for his managerial prowess by transforming it from near-bankruptcy into one of the world’s biggest and most successful car groups.

Ghosn’s arrest has thrown into question the future of the auto alliance he forged, which has come under pressure in his absence.

Nissan immediately ousted him as chairman after the arrest, as did Mitsubishi Motors, the other Japanese firm in the three-way alliance with Renault.

The French firm is expected to meet later this week to discuss removing Ghosn as chairman and CEO. Government officials in Paris have already urged the company’s board to pick a “new lasting leadership”.

Late on Sunday, Nissan held an inaugural meeting of a special committee designed to improve governance in the wake of the scandal.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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