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Ghosn granted bail after 3 months in Tokyo jail

Carlos Ghosn, who chaired the Renault-Nissan carmaker alliance until his arrest for alleged financial misconduct last year, was granted bail on 5 March 2019.
Carlos Ghosn, who chaired the Renault-Nissan carmaker alliance until his arrest for alleged financial misconduct last year, was granted bail on 5 March 2019. Reuters/Benoit Tessier

A Japanese court has accepted a request to release former auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn from jail, following more than three months of detention. Prosecutors have appealed the decision.

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In a new twist in a saga that saw the former chair of the Renault-Nissan carmaker alliance detained on suspicion of financial misconduct, the Tokyo District Court granted bail on condition that Ghosn pay one billion yen (about 7.8 million euros), remain in Japan and accept surveillance measures.

Ghosn, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, was arrested on 19 November 2018 and was twice denied bail prior to Tuesday’s decision on the grounds that he posed a flight risk and might destroy evidence.

The success of the third attempt comes after Ghosn changed defence teams last month, and new lead lawyer Junichiro Hironaka said he proposed to limit Ghosn’s contacts and movements.

It was not immediately clear when or if Ghosn would be able to leave his detention, with prosecutors demanding the businessman remain in jail pending his trial.

A release would allow Ghosn to meet more often with lawyers and build a more solid defence. He faces charges of aggravated breach of trust and under-reporting his salary at Nissan by some 72 million euros over nearly ten years.

If convicted on all charges, he faces up to a decade in jail.

Ghosn’s lengthy detention provoked criticism of Japan’s justice system, which allows courts and prosecutors to detain suspects almost indefinitely before trial.

If accepted, the bail amount would be among the highest ever paid in Japan, though it is half the amount paid in 2005 by Mitsuru Asada, a businessman later convicted of defrauding the government.

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