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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

Ghosn to be released after months in detention

Former Nissan chairman to leave jail as soon as Wednesday after paying $9m bail

The Tokyo District Court rejected an appeal filed by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors' Office asking the court to reverse its decision to grant bail to Carlos Ghosn. (Photo by Hiroshi Tamehiro)

TOKYO -- Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn is set to be released from jail on Wednesday, having paid the 1 billion yen ($9 million) bail set by the Tokyo District Court.

After more than 100 days in detention, Ghosn's third request for bail gave his new defense team a welcome victory as they prepare for his trial in the autumn on charges of financial misconduct.

The court rejected a prosecution appeal to keep him in custody late Tuesday night. The former auto executive is banned from traveling abroad or contacting anyone related to his court case out of concern that evidence could be destroyed.

Ghosn will reside in a home in Tokyo designated by the court, with surveillance cameras recording entry and exit from the premises. His lawyers must submit the recordings to court on a regular basis.

He will be using a phone with communication functions, but with no internet access. Nor is he allowed internet access on his computer. Ghosn's passports will be kept by his lawyer.

"I am extremely grateful for my family and friends who have stood by me throughout this terrible ordeal," Ghosn said in a statement issued Tuesday. "I am also grateful to the NGOs and human rights activists in Japan and around the world who fight for the cause of presumption of innocence and a fair trial. I am innocent and totally committed to vigorously defending myself in a fair trial against these meritless and unsubstantiated accusations," the former chairman added.

Nissan declined to comment.

The Brazilian-born tycoon was once one of the world's most celebrated executives, credited with rescuing Nissan from collapse two decades ago and successfully steering its long alliance with Renault, the French automaker where he also served as chairman. His arrest on Nov. 19 stunned the business world, as allegations of misuse of funds began to emerge following a secret internal investigation.

Ghosn denies any wrongdoing. In his first interview after he was taken into custody, he told Nikkei that he had "no doubt" his arrest was the result of a "plot and treason" by Nissan executives who were opposed to his plan to merge Nissan and Renault.

His long detention since his arrest on Nov. 19 has put Japan's justice system under global scrutiny. Ghosn's lawyers have submitted evidence to the United Nations alleging his human rights have been violated during his detention in Japan, his lawyers said this week.

Some Japanese lawyers not connected to the case have also criticized Ghosn's extended detention. Hiroshi Kadono, a lawyer and former Tokyo judge, had said Ghosn should be granted bail so that he can better "prepare courtroom tactics with his lawyers, outside of jail."

The successful bail application follows the appointment of a new legal team in February. The team includes Junichiro Hironaka, nicknamed "the Razor," who has won acquittals in high-profile cases.

Over the coming weeks the defense and prosecution will enter the pretrial phase, during which they each present their evidence to the Tokyo District Court.

The prosecution argues that Ghosn breached trust by transferring about 1.85 billion yen in personal losses from foreign exchange contracts to Nissan. The allegation also covers payments of 1.6 billion yen from company funds to a Saudi acquaintance of Ghosn's from 2009 to 2012.

In addition, the auto executive has been charged for understating his income for two periods -- the three years from fiscal 2015 to 2017, and the five years from 2010 to 2014. The underreported income amounts to around 9.1 billion yen over eight years.

Ghosn's former defense lawyer Motonari Otsuru, who previously served as head of an investigative division in the Tokyo prosecutors office, twice tried to get his client released in January.

Greg Kelly, a close Ghosn aide who was arrested on the same day as his boss, was released in December after putting up bail of 70 million yen.

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