Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn was released from detention late Thursday evening under a bail condition that bars him from contacting his wife without court approval.
Experts say he may be unable to communicate with her until the first trial verdict, many months away, unless the Tokyo District Court accepts his defense team’s request to repeal it before then.
Ghosn is facing multiple charges of alleged financial misconduct and was released on bail of ¥500 million ($4.5 million). The Code of Criminal Procedure stipulates that bail conditions be set if a court agrees to a suspect’s release.
But defense lawyers are allowed to request modifications regardless of the timing of the first trial. There is a high possibility Ghosn’s lawyers will request that the Tokyo District Court scrap the ban once they have narrowed down the critical points at issue, according to experts.
Ghosn’s defense lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, says he “does not believe (the definition of contact) was detailed.”
“Restricting communications and contact between my wife and me is cruel and unnecessary,” Ghosn said in a statement after his release. “We love each other very much, she answered all of the prosecutors’ questions in court, and she has done nothing wrong.”
Tokyo prosecutors have told the court that Ghosn’s wife, Carole, contacted individuals related to the allegations. His first release, on March 6, was conditional on him not contacting those individuals, but such contact by his wife was not prohibited.
The Ghosn case has drawn international attention to the prolonged detentions seen in Japan’s criminal justice system, which some have called “hostage justice.”
Critics say the system allows authorities to hold alleged offenders in difficult conditions for long periods of time, in hopes of soliciting admissions of guilt.
According to his fourth and latest indictment, Ghosn is accused of having a Nissan subsidiary in the United Arab Emirates pay a total of $10 million to a distributor in Oman between July 2017 and last July, and of having $5 million of that transferred to a savings account at a Lebanese investment firm that he effectively owns.
Sources close to the case have said it is alleged that part of the money was then channeled to a company run by Ghosn’s wife, where a portion may have gone toward the purchase of a luxury yacht worth ¥1.6 billion mainly for use by his family.
Ghosn was already preparing to defend himself against charges that he violated the financial instruments law, by underreporting his remuneration by ¥9.1 billion in Nissan securities reports presented to Japanese regulators over the eight years through March last year.
He has also been indicted over aggravated breach of trust in relation to the alleged transfer of private investment losses to Nissan’s books in 2008, and for allegedly paying $14.7 million in company funds to a Saudi businessman who extended him credit.