TOKYO — Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn on Monday asked for his release on bail from a two-month detention in Japan, promising he will report to prosecutors daily and wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet.
“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,” he said in a statement shared with The Associated Press through a representative of Ghosn and his family.
“I am not guilty of the charges against me and I look forward to defending my reputation in the courtroom; nothing is more important to me or to my family,” he said.
Ghosn, 64, and in custody since his Nov. 19 arrest, is due for a bail hearing Monday after his bail request was denied by a Tokyo court last week.
His latest request includes a lease for a Tokyo apartment, where he promises to live. The offer to wear a monitoring device is not standard for Japanese bail but is often included in U.S. bail conditions. No trial date has been set.
In Japan, suspects are often kept in detention until trials start, especially those who assert innocence, in what’s criticized as “hostage justice.” Tokyo prosecutors say Ghosn is a flight risk and may tamper with evidence. Legal experts, including Ghosn’s lawyers, say preparations for trials as complex as Ghosn’s take six months or longer.
Ghosn is also promising to give up his passport and hire security guards acceptable to prosecutors that he would pay for.
He has been charged with falsifying financial reports in underreporting his compensation from Nissan Motor Co., and breach of trust in having Nissan shoulder investment losses and pay a Saudi businessman.
Ghosn has asserted his innocence, saying the compensation was never decided, Nissan never suffered losses and the payments were for legitimate services for Nissan’s business in the Gulf.
He has been held in austere conditions at the Tokyo Detention Center, allowed visits only by embassy officials, lawyers and prosecutors. His wife, Carole Ghosn, has expressed worries about his health and appealed to Human Rights Watch about what she saw as his unfair and harsh treatment.
Ghosn led Nissan for two decades, turning it around from near-bankruptcy to one of the world’s biggest and most successful auto groups. A Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, with work experience in the U.S., Ghosn was admired internationally for his managerial skills. He was sent in 1999 by Renault SA of France, which owns 43 per cent of Nissan.
Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa has denounced Ghosn, accusing him of using company money and assets for personal gain. But Nissan’s oversight has raised serious questions about governance at the automaker behind the Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models.
Nissan’s internal investigation found Nissan purchased homes and furnishings for Ghosn in Lebanon and Brazil, but only a handful of people at Nissan knew, according to people familiar with the probe. Nissan still owns the homes.
The latest development in the investigation was discussed by the board of Nissan’s Japanese alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp. last week, centring on millions of dollars of salary and bonus pay to Ghosn by the automakers’ joint venture in Amsterdam last year, which neither Mitsubishi nor Nissan knew about.
No charges have been filed on these payments, which are separate from the compensation from Nissan cited in the charges already filed.
Ghosn’s compensation was long a sticking point in Japan, where the income difference between executives and workers is so minimal that company presidents are also called “salarymen.” Ghosn has said he deserved pay comparable to other star leaders of global companies.
Ghosn defended his record at Nissan at a Tokyo court earlier this month.
“I have a genuine love and appreciation for Nissan. I believe strongly that in all of my efforts on behalf of the company, I have acted honourably, legally, and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company,” he said.
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Yuri Kageyama, The Associated Press