Carlos Ghosn, former Nissan chairman, granted bail in Japan

Tokyo prosecutors expected to challenge decision to free businessman after charges he underreported his income

Carlos Ghosn has been granted bail by a court in Japan, almost four months after the former Nissan chairman was arrested over allegations of financial misconduct.

The Tokyo district court set bail at 1bn yen ($9m) after a request last week by Ghosn’s newly appointed legal team.

Ghosn’s release is not guaranteed, however. Prosecutors appealed against the court’s decision later on Tuesday and could file additional allegations to keep him in detention.

The court is unlikely to decide on the appeal before the end of the day, meaning that Ghosn’s possible release will not happen until Wednesday at the earliest, Kyodo news agency said.

Bail would also come with strict conditions, including the monitoring of Ghosn’s electronic communications and video surveillance of his residence in Tokyo. He is also banned from leaving Japan.

Ghosn is accused of underreporting his income by tens of millions of dollars and transferring personal investment losses to Nissan. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on all the charges. He has repeatedly denied the allegations.

His head lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, said on Monday he was optimistic he could secure bail, provided Ghosn agreed to submit to the stricter conditions for his release.

The case against the 64-year-old, who was hailed Nissan’s saviour two decades ago, has rocked Japan’s car industry and cast doubt over the future of the carmaker’s alliance with Renault.

Two bail requests made last month by his previous defence team, led by the former prosecutor Motonari Otsuru, were rejected by the same court.

The court rejected those requests, saying it believed Ghosn, who has spent 107 days at a detention centre in Tokyo, was a flight risk or could try to tamper with evidence.

Ghosn has previously offered to wear an ankle tag and hire guards to monitor his movements, and promised not to leave Japan.

He was first arrested on 19 November along with the former Nissan executive director Greg Kelly. Kelly, who has denied helping Ghosn underreport his income, was freed on bail on Christmas Day.

Japan has drawn criticism for its system of “hostage justice”. Ghosn’s lawyers in France said on Monday they had complained to the United Nations that his rights had been violated during detention in Japan.

Hironaka, nicknamed “the acquitter” for his success at winning acquittals in high-profile cases, has argued that the allegations should have been resolved internally by Nissan, whose corporate governance has come under scrutiny in the wake of Ghosn’s arrest.

Nissan sacked Ghosn as chairman soon after his arrest, although he remains on the board pending a decision at a shareholders’ meeting.

“Nissan’s internal investigation has uncovered substantial evidence of blatantly unethical conduct,” the company spokesman, Nick Maxfield, said.

Wire agencies contributed to this report.


Justin McCurry in Tokyo and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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