Carlos Ghosn pledges not to flee Japan if granted bail

Arrested car industry executive offers to give up his passport, submit to electronic tracking to gain release on bail.

    No trial date for Carlos Ghosn, held for more than two months, has been set [File: Issei Kato/Reuters]
    No trial date for Carlos Ghosn, held for more than two months, has been set [File: Issei Kato/Reuters]

    Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan chairman held in Tokyo on charges of financial misconduct, has promised to remain in Japan if granted bail.

    The Tokyo District Court will later on Monday consider the 64-year-old's latest petition for bail but has already rejected previous applications, judging Ghosn a flight risk who might seek to destroy evidence.

    "As the court considers my bail application, I want to emphasise that I will reside in Japan and respect any and all bail conditions the court concludes are warranted," Ghosn, who has been in custody since his arrest on November 19, said in a statement.

    "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 added, again proclaiming his innocence.

    Ghosn vowed to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, give up his passport and pay for security guards approved by prosecutors to gain release from detention on bail.

    Ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn says he didn't hide money (1:34)

    The former car industry heavyweight has been charged with falsifying financial reports in under-reporting his compensation from Nissan Motor Co., and breach of trust in having the carmaker shoulder investment losses and pay a Saudi businessperson.

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    Ghosn's latest request includes an offer to rent a Tokyo apartment, where he promises to live. The proposal for him to wear a monitoring device is not standard for Japanese bail but is often included in US 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 has been criticised as "hostage justice". Tokyo prosecutors contend that Ghosn is a flight risk and that he might tamper with evidence. Legal experts, including Ghosn's lawyers, say preparations for trials as complex as Ghosn's can take six months or longer.

    Ghosn has said the compensation he allegedly under-reported was never decided upon. He also says Nissan never suffered any losses from his own investments and the payments to the Saudi businessperson were for legitimate services for the carmaker'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 concerns over his health and appealed to Human Rights Watch about what she saw as his unfair and harsh treatment.

    Governance questions

    A Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, with work experience in the United States, Ghosn was sent to Nissan in 1999 by Renault SA of France, which owns 43 percent of the Japanese company.

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    Ghosn led Nissan for two decades, winning admiration for his managerial prowess by transforming it from near-bankruptcy into one of the world's biggest and most successful car groups.

    Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa has denounced Ghosn, accusing him of using company money and assets for personal gain. But the allegations against his former boss raise serious questions about governance at the company behind the Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models.

    Last week, Nissan's Japanese alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said it was investigating millions of dollars of salary and bonuses allegedly paid to Ghosn by the automakers' joint venture in Amsterdam last year.

    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 has long been 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.

    SOURCE: News agencies