After languishing in a Japanese holding cell for around 4 months now, Carlos Ghosn might finally get a chance to see the light of day.
What stands in his way is 1 billion Yen ($8.9 million) and a set of disgruntled prosecutors. This time, however, he’s got some pretty veritable backup.
After having dashed all hope for the troubled Nissan executive, with extension after extension of his detention period in light of endless new charges, the Tokyo court has finally extended Ghosn the proverbial olive branch – and it comes in a timely fashion, ahead of Ghosn’s birthday on Saturday.
This news comes a shocking development given the history of the Japanese justice system, which is infamous for its 99% conviction rate and extremely stringent methods. Following heavy criticism from international media and other vocal parties, it’s possible that the Tokyo court relented, if only slightly.
Still, given the rejection of two previous bail requests, after concerns regarding flight risk and Ghosn’s ability to tamper with evidence, this new development seems to have appeared out of the blue. Japan has not been one to give in to external pressure in regards to internal matters.
This would therefore lead us to believe that Ghosn’s tactical play last month is finally paying off.
Resetting the chess board
Last month, Ghosn replaced his legal team with a new one, spearheaded by the renowned lawyer Junichiro Hironaka. Hironaka is well-known for his tenacity in winning tough cases, and has been even nicknamed the “Razor.” According to the Japan Times, Hironaka “believes Ghosn is innocent based on his “gut feeling” as a lawyer, interactions with him and reading his books.” This gives an interesting, dramatic spin to this much-publicized case that has rattled the global automotive industry.
As part of Ghosn’s previous attempts to secure bail, he offered to wear an ankle brace, relinquish all his passports, and even agreed to be supervised by a security team hired by prosecutors to ensure he does not tamper with evidence or commit other court-obtrusive action. These conditions were still rejected, however.
The new bail terms negotiated by Hironaka’s legal team are similar in vein.
“I believe that we have presented our own convincing application showing that there is indeed no flight risk or risk of tampering with evidence,” Hironaka told reporters Monday. Naturally, Ghosn will be barred from travel.
Freedom is one prosecutor team away
While $8.9 million is no small sum, given Ghosn’s $100 million net worth, 9% is of your wealth is a small sum to pay for freedom.
Still, were this sum the only thing standing in his way, it would all be down to a waiting game while the judicial kinks are ironed out. The reality of the matter is quite different, however.
According to AFP, “prosecutors appealed the [bail] decision and could even file additional allegations against the 64-year-old to keep him from leaving detention.”
Previously, prosecutors had extended the standard 23 days allowed for detention without charges by repeatedly surfacing new charges against Ghosn whenever the end of this period neared. Currently, those charges are three in number: Two relate to Ghosn understating his pay, while the third claims Ghosn transferred losses to Nissan.
Following the rejection of his second bail attempt in January, it was believed that Ghosn would have to remain in custody until around June to be able to appear in court and have another chance at bail. The new legal team has re-rolled the dice on Ghosn’s fate, however, and he’s got a good chance of finally being released.
Now, he had just better hope that the prosecution team does not come up with new charges. A birthday with the family would be a true Hollywood ending to this act of his court saga.