TOKYO, Japan (UPDATED) – Carlos Ghosn awaits his fate as a Tokyo court prepares to rule on his bail request after the ousted Nissan boss vowed to remain in Japan if released and offered to provide more collateral.
The auto tycoon has pleaded for bail after languishing in custody for 64 days as he fights charges of financial misconduct that he strenuously denies.
In a statement released earlier Monday, January 21, he sought to change the court’s previous judgement that he represents a flight risk and might attempt to tamper with evidence.
“As the court considers my bail application, I want to emphasize 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 decision had not come by 7 pm local time (1000 GMT) and could yet come on Tuesday, January 22.
The court has already rejected previous attempts at securing his freedom on bail and even his own lead lawyer has indicated it could be 6 months before he is released for a trial.
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.
However, an official at the Japanese justice ministry told Agence France-Presse: “There is no system in Japan in which a person accused in a criminal case can be released with such a tracking bracelet.”
“The court sets the bail sum and can also add appropriate conditions such as limitations on where the accused should stay,” added the official.
‘Solid, stable, sustainable governance’
The case of Ghosn, a once-revered auto kingpin credited with turning around struggling Nissan, has gripped Japan and the business world since his arrest out of the blue on November 19 as his private jet landed at a Tokyo airport.
Since then, he has been seen in public only 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.
The charges against Ghosn are that he under-declared his income in official documents to shareholders over an 8-year period – 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.
Nissan immediately ousted him as chairman after the arrest, as did Mitsubishi Motors, the other Japanese firm in the 3-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, January 20, 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 3 or 4 additional times before issuing a final report at the end of March.
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.” – Rappler.com