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VOL. 43 | NO. 16 | Friday, April 19, 2019

Nissan ex-chair Ghosn awaiting release on bail

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TOKYO (AP) — Nissan's former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, was awaiting release from the Tokyo Detention House on Thursday after he paid 500 million yen ($4.5 million) in bail.

Prosecutors were fighting to keep Ghosn in detention and it was unclear when he might be released.

The prosecutors said in a statement they vehemently oppose releasing Ghosn, contending he could tamper with evidence or influence witnesses.

Ghosn was arrested in November, released on bail in March but re-arrested and detained in April on fresh allegations.

The latest bail comes on top of the 1 billion yen ($9 million) Ghosn posted for his earlier release.

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 he allegedly underreported was never decided on or paid and the payments considered to be a breach of trust were legitimate.

For the earlier 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 requires similar restrictions, including not leaving the country, according to the court.

"I am so relieved. I had been worried," Ghosn's lawyer Junichiro Hironaka told reporters about the court decision.

Japanese media reports said the court is adding a new restriction, requiring advance notice of contacts between Ghosn and his wife, Carole Ghosn. Details of that restriction were unclear.

Carole Ghosn was called in for questioning earlier this month.

Takashi Takano, one of Ghosn's lawyers, has denied Japanese media reports that Carole Ghosn had contacted people related to the allegations and stressed Ghosn's entire family has been abiding by the terms of his bail agreement.

"If they had done such a thing, the release on bail would end, and they would lose bail money," he said in a recent blog post.

Japanese social media and media were alive with speculation over how Ghosn might appear when he leaves detention.

When he was released on March 4 after more than 100 days in detention, he wore a cap, mask and what appeared to be a construction worker's outfit. Ghosn was still easily recognizable, and the "disguise" provoked widespread amusement and commentary.

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." Although prolonged detentions are routine in Japan, rearresting a person who has cleared bail is unusual.

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.

Renault owns 43 percent of Yokohama-based Nissan, while Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault.

His departure has raised concern over a potential leadership vacuum at Nissan, which he dominated until his arrest, and about the future of its alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi.

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

A date for Ghosn's trial has not been set. In Japan, trial preparations tend to take months. Both sides have said that the case is complex. The allegations against him involve payments to a Saudi dealership, as well as funds paid to an Oman business that purportedly were diverted to entities run by Ghosn.

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