The new bail application for Carlos Ghosn includes an offer for him to be monitored by surveillance cameras to ensure he doesn’t flee Japan or tamper with evidence.
Ghosn faces three indictments for alleged financial misconduct at Nissan and is entering a fourth month in a Tokyo jail. Ghosn denies the charges, but the Tokyo District Court has refused two previous bail requests citing concerns about flight risk and evidence tampering. If found guilty, Ghosn faces up to 10 years in prison.
In a news conference on Monday, Ghosn’s lawyers outlined several irregularities about the case which they say just do not add up: the timeline, the allegations and the actors.
The case in question dates to a decade ago, it involves disputes that normally would be handled internally, and it concerns issues that other officials in the company would seemingly know about- Junichiro Hironaka, nicknamed “The Razor”.
“This case is quite peculiar,” Hironaka said. “There are things Nissan was aware of more than 10 years ago. For what reason is this case now being put to prosecutors at this late stage as a criminal act? Using common sense, they do not seem to be acts subject to criminal prosecution.”
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Hironaka said larger forces were likely at play, including the Japanese government’s concern about the security of the nation’s auto industry and tensions between Nissan and Renault over the future direction of the automakers’ 20-year alliance.
“There is a link in regard to both the economy and politics that we should be paying attention to here,” Hironaka said. “The company situation of Renault and Nissan has an impact on what has led to this situation. But this is something we will be looking into further from here.”
“I wonder if Mr. Ghosn has ever had any love or sense of attachment to Nissan as a company. I wonder if Nissan was merely a tool for him and his family to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle,” Saikawa said. “I seriously question if Mr. Ghosn has had any respect for Japanese people and Japanese society at all. If he had respect for Japan, he couldn’t have committed such misconduct.”
Saikawa’s latest remarks exasperated Ghosn’s children, all of whom grew up in Japan.
The family is seeking assistance from a United Nations human rights group to secure his release from jail.
His detention in Japan has involved violations of UN norms, including dehumanizing conditions, no access to family and frequent interrogations without an attorney present, lawyers representing Ghosn’s wife Carole and his four children said at a press conference in Paris Monday.
“This isn’t an action against Japan, it’s an action for human rights,” said Francois Zimeray, a lawyer for the family. “The family had hoped that reason would prevail, that right would prevail.”
In his interview with Shukan Bunshun, Saikawa acknowledged there was mounting resistance inside Nissan to Ghosn’s overtures about merging the management of the two companies.
Ghosn began raising the idea in February 2018, Saikawa said. Even though Saikawa repeatedly objected to the proposal, Ghosn and Nissan director Greg Kelly continued to push for it.
But Saikawa said his own resistance to any management integration between Renault and Nissan had nothing to do with the charges of financial malfeasance leveled against Ghosn.
That investigation, he said, had begun separately in early 2018, without Saikawa’s knowledge. Saikawa said he learned about the allegations only in October, a month before Ghosn’s arrest.
“The arrest and clash of opinions over management integration are two separate things,” he said. “When I was first notified of this fraud, the internal investigation was already underway. Most of his misconduct is serious enough to warrant immediate dismissal for an ordinary executive. The arrest is entirely a different dimension from talk of management integration.”
Nissan spokesman Nicholas Maxfield said the Tokyo Public Prosecutors Office began its own investigation into possible wrongdoings in during Nissan’s own internal probe.
“The sole cause of this chain of events is the misconduct led by Ghosn and Kelly,” he said. “Aside from any criminal investigation, Nissan’s internal investigation has uncovered substantial evidence of blatantly unethical conduct, resulting in a unanimous board vote to discharge Ghosn and Kelly as chairman and representative director.”