Lawyers for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn want to dismiss the charges



Junichiro Hironaka, Chief Attorney for Carlos Ghosn. / Associated Press

TOKYO – Lawyers for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, who is awaiting trial in Japan, said Thursday that they had demanded that he be released on charges of financial misconduct.

They said in a statement that they had filed papers with the Tokyo District Court in connection with the prosecution's protest, which would impede Ghosn's fair trial.

The papers say that among prosecutors, government officials and executives, he will bring Nissan Motor Company to justice as its chairman.

Their goal was to prevent Gossn from further integrating Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA, they said.

"In pursuit of this scheme, prosecutors illegally assigned investigative powers to certain Nissan employees and consultants, and with Nissan illegally violated Mr. Ghosn's legal rights in Japan and around the world," the statement said.

Gosney says he is innocent. He was arrested in November 2018 and released on bail. Prosecutors say they are convinced they have a case.

It said it was unwanted to abuse the plea bargaining system, to receive false and deceptive testimony from Nissan employees and to rely on Nissan's own investigation, which the lawyers called impartial.

He also noted that the seizure of documents related to his trial and media disclosure was intended to harm his reputation.

"We will prove his innocence, but this compilation proves that, even before and after the crime, this case is illegal," one lawyer, Junichiro Heronaka, told reporters.

"They wanted a criminal case and so they went digging and got their case back in time."

Hironaka is known for its respect for the nation at 99% convict rates. He is part of an international team of dozens of lawyers hired by Ghosn.

Heronaka also accused prosecutors of stealing evidence, initiating court hearings and suspending certain defense evidence, including thousands of emails.

He said the submissions made last week reflect the defense team's efforts to tell the story.

In the Japanese criminal system, there is a long phase of pre-trial hearings where defense and prosecutors present evidence. The most recent submission was part of such preliminary complaints procedures.

The court may not decide on the most recent submission. In the meantime, the trial could begin.

It is unknown when the trial will start or how long it will last, but it is likely to start next year.

Asked whether there is a widespread conspiracy against Ghosn, Hironaka said: "You may think this is extreme, but arresting Mr. Ghosn is extreme."

He declined to give specifics, but said Ghosn's defense team had submitted evidence to support his claims in the most recent submissions.

"They wanted to prevent Nissan from handing over to France," Herronaka said.

Nissan declined to comment, saying the company was not commenting on the legal review.

Ghosn was sent to Japan by Reno in the late 1990s and has been tasked with turning around the bankrupt Nyanan at the time and helping him become one of the world's leading auto alliances.

Ghosn's indictment allegedly delivers information about remuneration in the documentation and breaches confidence in making suspicious payments.

Ghosn's defense contends the promised remuneration, which was allegedly not properly shown, was never agreed.

The defense ministry also said that the allegation of suspicious currency exchange had caused no financial damage to Nissan and that payments were made to Middle Eastern businesses for legitimate services used by Nissan.

Heronaka said Ghosn is involved in preparing for his trial and attending pre-trial hearings, including on Thursday.

"She's doing a wonderful job," said Herronaka.

Ghosn's bail conditions prohibit her from contacting her husband, Carol, whose request has been repeatedly sought for protection. Another such request was filed Thursday, Herronaka said.

Prosecutors say the restriction is to prevent Ghosn and his wife from conspiring in a way that could endanger the case.

Separately, the legal group said Gosn had reached a civil settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission when he signed a probe into alleged securities violations of U.S. securities laws.

The SEC case decided that "no crime was found or confessed," the defense team said.