Nissan ex-chair Ghosn’s release on bail approved by court

A Japanese court approved on Thursday the release of detained Nissan ex-chair Carlos Ghosn on 500 million yen, or $4.5 million, bail.

Prosecutors can appeal the decision by the Tokyo District Court, while his lawyers will be pushing for his release.

Ghosn was arrested in November, released on bail in March but re-arrested in April on new allegations and taken to the Tokyo Detention House.

He has been charged with under-reporting his post-retirement compensation and breach of trust in diverting Nissan money and allegedly having it shoulder his personal investment losses.

Ghosn, 65, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, says he is innocent. He contends the compensation allegedly underreported was never decided on or paid and the payments considered to be a breach of trust were legitimate.

The latest bail agreement follows 1 billion yen ($9 million) in bail that Ghosn posted for his earlier release.

For that release, his defense team offered special conditions such installing a surveillance camera at the entrance to a specified residence for the former star executive and promising to use a cellphone and the internet only under specified conditions.

The latest release, if granted, is likely to require similar restrictions.

Ghosn’s case has reignited criticism, both internally and internationally, against lengthy detentions without a trial or conviction in Japan, which critics call “hostage justice.”

Ghosn led Nissan Motor Co. for two decades and was credited with steering the success of the global alliance with Renault SA of France and smaller Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

Nissan lowered its profit forecasts for the fiscal year through March for the second time Wednesday, acknowledging the downward revision reflected the fallout from the Ghosn scandal, as well as slowing markets and rising costs in some regions.

Questions are also growing about a potential leadership vacuum at Nissan, which in the past was dominated by Ghosn, and about the future of its alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi.

Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan, while Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault.

Sales are falling, especially in France and Japan, where Ghosn was widely known. Although Nissan has promised to strengthen corporate governance, its image has suffered.

Nissan, based in Yokohama, has declined comment on the criminal case. It has said an internal investigation found misconduct, and has ousted Ghosn from the board.

In a video statement released April 9, Ghosn said a few Nissan executives plotted against him in “a conspiracy.”


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