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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

Ghosn refused bail despite offers of GPS monitor and daily calls

Court concerned about evidence tampering as Saudi payment is shrouded in mystery

Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been held at the Tokyo Detention Center for more than two months. (Photo by Wataru Ito)

TOKYO -- Carlos Ghosn will likely remain in detention for some time to come as the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday rejected the former Nissan Motor chairman's latest request for bail despite his offer to accept "any and all" conditions.

Ghosn offered several concessions with his second bail request but failed to allay prosecutors' concerns that he could conceal or destroy evidence.

His legal team is expected to file an appeal soon. The next bail application will probably come once the situation has changed, such as when prosecutors start wrapping up their investigation or after the defense has laid out its arguments ahead of trial.

"The conditions proposed by Ghosn would have significantly restricted his actions, so there was plenty of room for bail to have been granted," said attorney Hiroshi Kadono, a former Tokyo High Court Judge.

Ghosn's offers included wearing a GPS ankle monitor, checking in with the public prosecutors' office daily and surrendering all three of his passports: French, Lebanese and Brazilian. Unlike in his first application, in which he asked to stay in France or at the French ambassador's residence in Japan, his second request listed a rented apartment in Tokyo as his proposed address.

"I will reside in Japan and respect any and all bail conditions the court concludes are warranted," Ghosn wrote in a statement distributed to the media on Monday by a family representative. 

The court's denial probably related to the breach-of-trust charges against Ghosn, which center on $14.7 million in payments to a company run by a Saudi acquaintance, Khaled al-Juffali.

Ghosn asserted at a hearing this month that the money was appropriate compensation for al-Juffali's help with fundraising, resolving trouble with a local dealer and organizing meetings with Saudi officials with an eye toward building a factory in the country.

But a source at Nissan Middle East, the subsidiary through which the payments passed, tells a very different story. "It's not true that [al-Juffali] worked on Nissan's behalf, and there were no plans to build a plant," the insider said.

The investigation is still underway, and the court probably concluded that if released, Ghosn could try to interfere by coordinating the stories of witnesses.

The former chairman has remained in custody for more than two months since his initial arrest Nov. 19 on suspicion of underreporting his compensation. Suspects in Japan can be detained indefinitely after being charged, and courts often refuse to grant bail to those who assert their innocence.

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