National

Ghosn abruptly cancels news conference due to opposition from his family

Kyodo

Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn abruptly canceled a news conference on Friday, just hours after notifying the media of the plan, due to opposition from his family, one of his lawyers said.

Ghosn, who is preparing for a trial over financial misconduct charges, had been scheduled to speak at 9 p.m. Friday in what would have been his first news conference since his arrest last November.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan said in the early afternoon that he would meet the media at the club in Tokyo, but the event was called off in the evening.

Junichiro Hironaka, one of his lawyers, told reporters that his family opposed the plan for him to speak to the media as it could prove disadvantageous to him.

Ghosn had also planned to hold a news conference on April 11 after he was granted bail in March but was unable to do so because he was arrested for the fourth time on April 4. He was released for the second time on bail on April 26.

The latest cancellation was also decided because some of his lawyers became concerned about whether he was fully prepared for questions about the allegations against him.

Hironaka said that Ghosn wanted to speak against the Tokyo District Court’s decision on Friday to dismiss his objection to bail conditions that bar him from getting in touch with his wife Carole Ghosn without court approval.

“I think it is difficult to reschedule (the news conference) soon,” Hironaka said.

Ghosn, who holds Brazilian, French and Lebanese nationality, was planning to hold a news conference as the leaders of the Group of 20 major economies gathered in Osaka for a two-day summit from Friday.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday at a news conference in Tokyo after a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that France will pay attention to whether the principle of the presumption of innocence and the right of defense are respected, adding that he has no intention of interfering in individual cases.

The Ghosn case has brought international attention to Japan’s criminal justice system and the use of so-called hostage justice. Critics say the system enables authorities to hold alleged offenders in difficult conditions for long periods of time in the hope of inducing an admission of guilt.

The former Nissan chairman has been indicted for allegedly violating the financial instruments law by underreporting his remuneration in the eight years through March 2018 as around ¥7.8 billion ($72 million) when his pay actually totaled around ¥17 billion.

He faces other allegations that he transferred some Nissan funds for personal use, including channeling them to Carole Ghosn’s company, where a portion may have gone toward the purchase of a luxury yacht mainly for use by the family.

Ghosn is also accused of having a Nissan subsidiary in the United Arab Emirates pay $10 million to a distributor in Oman between July 2017 and last July, and of having $5 million of that money transferred to a savings account at a Lebanese investment firm that Ghosn effectively owns.

He has denied all allegations, saying in a video message recorded prior to his fourth arrest that he is the victim of a “conspiracy” by Nissan executives who felt that a possible convergence or merger with partner Renault SA would threaten Nissan’s autonomy.

Ghosn, credited with saving Nissan when it was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy in the late 1990s, has been stripped of his chairmanship posts at Nissan and Renault as well as at Mitsubishi Motors Corp., the third partner in the Japanese-French alliance.

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