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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

Ghosn could spend extra months behind bars, lawyer fears

Defense says 'no reason' for detention, asks for Nissan ex-chairman's release

Motonari Otsuru, right, chief lawyer for former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, holds a news conference in Tokyo on Jan. 8. (Photo by Kaisuke Ota)

TOKYO -- Carlos Ghosn's chief defense lawyer said on Tuesday that he fears the former Nissan Motor chairman could be detained for "at least another six months," given the complicated nature of the case, including language differences.

Motonari Otsuru, the former head of special investigations at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors' Office, said his counterpart prosecutors "will probably pursue charges, as is usual."

"It may take at least six months to set up the first trial," he added, since the prosecutors as well as the defendant need to collect a wide range of evidence scattered across national borders in various languages. "It is quite usual for the court not to approve bail until the first trial opens," he said. Prolonged detention is "our biggest concern as defense lawyers."

Otsuru's team the same day filed a request for Ghosn's detention to be canceled, saying, "There is no reason for [him] to be detained." Ghosn's current detention period is set to expire on Friday.

Following Ghosn's court hearing on Tuesday morning, his legal team held a news conference for the first time since the then Nissan chairman was detained on Nov. 19. They distributed statements made by Ghosn and his team at the hearing at the Tokyo District Court, requesting disclosure of the reason for detention.

Ghosn is accused of breach of trust, for allegedly passing on to Nissan about 1.85 billion yen ($17 million) in personal losses from foreign exchange contracts. Otsuru explained that there was an agreement between the bank, Ghosn and Nissan that "any loss amounts from this contract would be paid by [Ghosn] to Nissan, and only after that would Nissan pay the bank."

The ousted chairman is also accused of paying a Saudi acquaintance, Khaled Juffali, 1.6 billion yen in company funds. Otsuru claimed that Juffali and the Nissan employee responsible for overseeing the company's Middle East business said the amount paid to Juffali was "appropriate" for the work performed.

The attorney added that there was no violation of the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act, as suspected by prosecutors in the alleged underreporting of compensation. The amount of compensation was not determined and Ghosn consulted lawyers inside and outside the company regarding his remuneration.

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