Business / Corporate

Carlos Ghosn again denied bail in Tokyo, despite written offer to wear electronic ankle tag

Reuters

Carlos Ghosn’s latest request for bail was rejected Tuesday by the Tokyo District Court despite the ousted Nissan chairman offering to wear an electronic ankle tag in an unusual bid to win release after two months of detention for alleged financial crimes.

The ruling, widely anticipated, raises the likelihood that the 64-year-old executive will remain in custody until his trial, and will put pressure on Nissan Motor Co.’s French partner, Renault SA, to find his successor as chairman and CEO.

Renault’s board is expected to meet in the coming days to decide who will succeed Ghosn. That step will essentially remove him from the three-way alliance that includes Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

Ghosn was almost immediately ousted from the chairmanship of both Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors after his initial arrest Nov. 19 but remains chairman and CEO of their French partner.

He has been officially charged with underreporting his salary for eight years through last March and temporarily transferring personal financial losses to Nissan’s books. Ghosn denies the charges.

The court did not give a reason for the denial. Bail is rarely granted for defendants in Japan without a confession.

Ghosn’s lawyer was not immediately available for comment after the Tokyo District Court announced its decision.

Ghosn’s latest bail request also included an offer to hire guards to monitor him and a promise to remain in Tokyo, where he has leased an apartment. He offered to post stock he owns in Nissan as collateral, his spokeswoman said.

An earlier request for bail was denied last week due to concerns the executive, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, was a flight risk, and that he may tamper with evidence if released.

In a statement released Monday, Ghosn repeated his intent to clear his name in court.

“I will attend my trial not only because I am legally obligated to do so, but because I am eager to finally have the opportunity to defend myself,” he said. “I am not guilty of the charges against me and I look forward to defending my reputation in the courtroom.”

The arrest of the once-feted executive, who orchestrated the turnaround of Nissan two decades ago, has clouded the future of the partnership between Nissan and Renault, which has been in turmoil since his arrest.

Ghosn had pushed for a deeper tie-up between Nissan and Renault, including possibly a full merger, despite strong reservations at the Japanese firm.

On Monday, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said this is not the time to discuss revising the partners’ complicated capital ties. Local media have reported that a French government delegation informed Tokyo it would seek an integration of Renault and Nissan, most likely under the umbrella of a single holding company.

Renault owns a 43.4 percent stake in Nissan, which in turn holds a non-voting 15 percent stake in Renault. The French government owns a 15 percent voting stake in Renault.

Nissan, which has been conducting an internal probe into misconduct by Ghosn, believes he misused company funds for personal purposes, including payments related to his compensation, his residences dotted around the globe, and payments to family members, according to people with knowledge of the matter.