Asia Business Channel

Carlos Ghosn declares “innocence” – Judge calls him a “flight risk”


Carlos Ghosn, the ex-Chairman of Nissan Motor Company denied shifting his personal investment losses to Nissan during his first appearance in public since his arrest in November and declared that the allegations against him are groundless. The court hearing was held after Ghosn’s lawyer submitted a request for disclosure of the reasons for his detention, based on the Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Law.

Ghosn, wearing a navy blue suit and white shirt, entered the court in handcuffs and with a rope tied around his waist. Observers noted that Ghosn has more gray hair and sunken cheeks compared with his appearance before his arrest, and according to his son, has lost more than 10 kilos since his arrest in mid-November.

As part of the court proceedings, Ghosn was allowed to make a statement and said: "I have been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations. Contrary to the accusations made by the prosecutors, I never received any compensation from Nissan that was not disclosed, nor did I ever enter into any binding contract with Nissan to be paid a fixed amount that was not disclosed."

Ghosn’s lawyers had requested the hearing and have asked the court why Ghosn should remain in prolonged detention. The presiding judge, Yuichi Tada, read the prosecutors charges and said that Ghosn was being detained because his a “flight risk” and because of the possibility that he may conceal evidence.

Ghosn has been detained at the Tokyo Detention House since his first arrest on Nov. 19. In December, he was indicted on charges of under-reporting his annual pay between fiscal 2010 and 2014.

On Dec. 21, when it appeared that Ghosn would be released from detention, prosecutors arrested him on new allegations on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust in violation of the Companies Law. Prosecutors accuse Ghosn of transferring to Nissan losses of $17.03 million USD incurred through his personal investments.

According to prosecutors, Ghosn had a Nissan Dubai subsidiary provide $14.7 million USD to a long-time acquaintance and wealthy businessman in Saudi Arabia, for his help in securing a bank credit guarantee when he transferred the rights to the contract back to Ghosn in February 2009, prosecutors said.

The proceedings against Ghosn have placed a spotlight on Japan’s criminal justice system. Prosecutors proudly point to the fact that they have a 98% conviction rate, but critics point out that one of the reasons for this conviction rate is because prosecutors can hold people in detention for unlimited periods of time.

Other points of criticism are that those held in detention can be interrogated by investigators for 8 hours each day and are not allowed to have a lawyer present when they are being interrogated.

People have been held in detention for more than 1-year, and the only way they could be released and then given a trial was to coercively sign documents prepared by the prosecutors in Japanese, wherein they declare themselves “guilty” of their crimes.

Critics also note that detainees are unable to take showers or exercise on a daily basis, are forced to stay in small detention cells and are given limited amounts of food each day while they remain in detention.

According to foreigners who have been detained, since Japanese culture is based upon “guilt”, prosecutors believe that everyone is guilty of something, and they Japanese detention system is designed to make people break and confess. Whether Ghosn can continue to resist remains to be seen, but at this point he is defiant and refuses to accept the charges that have been leveled against him.



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