Things look bleak as haggard Ghosn makes first court appearance
The Carlos Ghosn saga continues, and this latest chapter has just unfolded in court for the first time.
Ghosn’s future prospects don’t look promising, to say the least, as AFP has just revealed this morning that the Tokyo court has rejected his bid for bail to be released from detention.
Ghosn’s hopes turn to Friday
A Japanese court on Wednesday rejected a bid by former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn to end his detention over alleged financial misconduct, AFP reported, until Friday when he reaches maximum detention period. This comes one day after he denied all accusations in a dramatic court appearance.
“The request to cancel the detention filed by Mr Ghosn’s lawyers yesterday… was rejected on January 9,” the court said today.
To make matters worse, even the head of his Japanese legal team, Motonari Otsuru, doesn’t have an optimistic outlook. He suggested that if his client were to be indicted on charges of aggravated breach of trust, he could stay behind bars until the trial opens, the Financial Times (FT) reported. It would be “very difficult” to win bail before the case goes to trial, AFP reported him saying.
That could be June at the earliest – another 6 months of detainment.
Now, Ghosn’s eyes are set on Friday, “when his latest maximum period of detention will end and he will either be freed on bail or — more likely — see his detention extended,” AFP highlighted.
Asked by BBC whether his client could expect to be bailed at the end of this detention period, Motonari said: “In general, in such cases in Japan, it is usually not approved before the first trial takes place.”
An emotional plea
Carlos Ghosn has been through the wringer. After being arrested not once, not twice, but three times, and having been detained for more than 50 days, the millionaire executive made his first court appearance yesterday.
“In the 10 minutes that he was granted to speak at a Tokyo court on Tuesday, the ousted Nissan chairman spent every second defending himself not only against all the allegations made against him but also in protecting his legacy as the architect of a three-way alliance including France’s Renault and Mitsubishi Motors,” FT reported.
The media reported that the effects of a prolonged detainment had already begun to show on the 64-year-old ex-CEO, with physical signs such as lost weight and greying hair.
“I have always acted with integrity and have never been accused of any wrongdoing in my several-decade professional career,” he said in an emotionally-charged account, the Guardian reported. “I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations.”
(Ghosn’s wealth Chart by Bloomberg)
He added: “Contrary to the accusations made by the prosecutors, I never received any compensation from Nissan that was not disclosed, nor did I ever enter into any binding contract with Nissan to be paid a fixed amount that was not disclosed.”
Ghosn was arrested on November 19 based on accusations of financial misconduct, where he is believed to have understated his income by $44 million over 5 years. He was also accused of using company funds to purchase luxury homes in Beirut and Rio de Janeiro.
Greg Kelly, a fellow executive, was similarly detained for aiding him, but was released on bail for $650,000, on Christmas day.
Ghosn, however, remained in detention, as new accusations had risen, one Kelly was uninvolved in (which is why he was allowed to make bail). This time, Ghosn was accused of “allegedly seeking to pass off personal investment losses to Nissan’s books and paying a Saudi businessman from company funds to stump up collateral to cover the losses,” according to AFP.
The Japanese criminal justice system is infamous for its 99% conviction rate. Given Ghosn’s resistance and counter-defense, media outlets are not very positive about his prospects, as echoed by his own lawyer Motonari Otsuru.
Friday will hold the next chapter of this saga of a titan’s fall from grace.