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Ex-Nissan chief Ghosn granted bail by Tokyo court, release pending prosecutors' appeal

The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday granted bail to former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, meaning the ex auto tycoon could be released for the first time since his arrest.

The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday granted bail to former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, meaning the ex auto tycoon could be released for the first time since his arrest on Nov. 19 last year.

Ghosn's bail was set at 1 billion yen (US$9 million) after a request was filed with the court on Thursday by Ghosn's new legal team.

A member of the team said Tuesday that bail will not be paid until the court rejects an appeal made by prosecutors earlier in the day to overturn their request for bail.   

Being that this could be a lengthy process and bail payments are not usually made at nighttime, Ghosn's release, if the prosecutors' appeal is rejected, will likely be on Wednesday at the earliest, the lawyer indicated.

Prosecutors on Tuesday filed a quasi-appeal with the court against its decision to grant Ghosn bail, but if rejected, the defendant's release could be imminent after being detained for more than 100 days.

Ghosn, 64, has legal representation including that from newly-appointed lawyer Junichiro Hironaka who is known for winning acquittals in high-profile cases such as his.

It was the third attempt his legal team had requested bail for their client, after the first two were rejected by the court.

"I'm glad the court has decided to grant bail. It accepted the strict monitoring conditions that the defense team proposed," Hironaka told a press briefing on Tuesday.

A day earlier, Hironaka said he expected his client to be released in the "near future" and was looking into ways to make this happen.

If released on bail, Ghosn, previously considered a flight risk by the court, will be under a travel ban ensuring he does not leave Japan. He will also have to remain under limited video surveillance and will only be granted restricted access to the use of mobile phones and computers.

Other provisos of his bail have not been made clear, but, according to sources close to the matter, they are based around making sure Ghosn cannot tamper with evidence or contact Nissan executives or others involved in the case.

Ghosn is facing two charges of under-reporting his remuneration in Nissan's securities reports and another allegation of aggravated breach of trust.

Ghosn, widely recognized as the brains and brawn behind Nissan's rapid turnaround since 1999, has rigorously maintained he has in no way violated financial regulatory laws in relation to reporting his earnings, and has maintained that Nissan incurred no losses from his private investment dealings that have led to allegations of breach of trust.

Ghosn, who holds Brazilian, French and Lebanese citizenship, appeared in public at a hearing for the first time on Jan. 8 and was granted permission to voice his opinions in court about the charges facing him.

He has maintained that he had been wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations.

The protracted case, which has rocked both the global automotive as well as the business world in general, has brought into focus Japan's judiciary system and critics have pointed out that suspects here can effectively be detained by prosecutors indefinitely in pursuit of a confession.

Since his detention, Ghosn has been dismissed as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. He was replaced as chairman of Renault SA in the three-way alliance he created after he tendered his resignation while in detention in Tokyo. 

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