Ghosn vows to stay in Japan if granted bail

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TOKYO, Jan 21, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Carlos Ghosn, the ousted Nissan boss
detained in Tokyo on charges of financial misconduct, on Monday vowed to
remain in Japan if granted bail and again proclaimed his innocence.

The Tokyo District Court will later Monday consider the 64-year-old’s
latest petition for bail but has already rejected previous applications,
judging Ghosn a flight risk who might seek to destroy evidence.

“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 in a statement released by his US-based
representatives.

He vowed 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.

A spokeswoman for Ghosn, Devon Spurgeon, said his family had already rented
an apartment in Tokyo where he promised to reside while awaiting trial.

He has also promised to hand over his passports, refrain from contacting
people connected with the case and pay for security guards approved by
prosecutors to monitor his movements, according to Spurgeon.

She added that Ghosn has also offered a higher bail fee by stumping up
Nissan stock as collateral and promised to wear an electronic tracking
bracelet paid for by himself.

The Tokyo court has dismissed all previous attempts by Ghosn to secure his
freedom and even his lead lawyer has said he is unlikely to be granted bail
until a trial takes place — which could take six months.

However, the case has been full of twists and turns that have kept Japan
and the business world gripped since his first stunning arrest as he landed
in his private jet at Haneda Airport.

The Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian executive said he has been in his Tokyo
detention cell for 64 days “with no release in sight”.

Since then, he has only been seen in public once, in a dramatic court
appearance where the much thinner executive pleaded his innocence in a packed
courtroom.

His wife Carole 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.

– ‘Solid, stable, sustainable governance’ –

Ghosn’s arrest represented a sudden fall from grace for a once-revered
tycoon widely credited with turning Nissan around from the verge of
bankruptcy.

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. French government officials have already urged the
company’s board to pick a “new lasting leadership”.

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

The head of the committee, Seiichiro Nishioka, said the problem was “an
excessive concentration of authority in the hands of a single person”.

The committee is expected to meet three or four additional times before
issued a final report at the end of March.

The charges against Ghosn are that he under-declared his income in official
documents to shareholders over an eight-year period — in an apparent bid to
dodge accusations he was overpaid.

In addition, prosecutors have formally charged him with involvement in a
complex scheme they say was designed to make Nissan pay for personal
investment losses sustained in the financial crisis of 2008.

Ghosn’s arrest has thrown into question the future of the auto alliance he
forged, which has come under pressure in his absence. French Economy Minister
Bruno Le Maire on Sunday denied talk of a potential merger between Renault
and Nissan, despite reports in the Japanese media that Paris was pushing for
that outcome.

“The subject is not on the table today. What is on the table today is the
governance of Renault,” he told journalists during a visit to Cairo.

“The most important thing for us is to have solid, stable, sustainable
governance for Renault.”

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