Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been released from a Japanese prison after successfully posting his 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) bail.
He was seen leaving the Tokyo Detention House wearing a workman’s uniform, face mask, blue cap and glasses, before getting into a minicar outside.
It comes as part of the latest twist in a case that has kept Japan and the business world gripped since the tycoon’s shock arrest on November 19, over suspicions of financial misconduct.
Ghosn stands accused of moving $15 million of personal losses to the car company’s accounts.
Carlos Ghosn – the former chairman of Nissan – has been successfully posted bail, the Tokyo District Court revealed on Wednesday
Mitsubishi Motors executives ousted the 64-year-old as chairman in November following his arrest for alleged financial misconduct amid suggestions he under-reported his salary by as much as $71 million.
Prosecutors are looking into allegations he conspired with another executive, American Greg Kelly, to understate his income by around $44 million between June 2011 and June 2015.
The court has previously said Ghosn’s continued detention was justified because he posed a flight risk and could seek to tamper with evidence.
In reply, Ghosn issued a statement reasserting his innocence.
‘I am innocent and totally committed to vigorously defending myself in a fair trial against these merit-less and unsubstantiated accusations,’ he said in the statement.
Carole Ghosn, wife of former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, walks to a car waiting at the entrance of Tokyo Detention Center, where her husband is detained, on Wednesday March 6
The surprise decision to set a bail bond for Ghosn came after his new lead defense lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, told reporters he had filed a ‘convincing’ application for bail that contained fresh elements.
Hironaka, who has a reputation for securing acquittals for high-profile clients in a country where almost all court cases end in conviction, offered greater surveillance of Ghosn and a limit on his electronic communications to win bail.
But the court had previously shown no inclination to end the lengthy pre-trial detention, which has drawn some criticism internationally and from rights groups.
Jean-Yves Le Borgne, Ghosn’s French lawyer, cautioned that prosecutors still had leeway to file new charges.
Suspects in Japan often are detained for months, especially those who insist on their innocence, like Ghosn.
Some legal experts, including Hironaka, have criticized the system as ‘hostage justice,’ saying the long detentions tend to encourage false confessions.
Prosecutors contend that suspects may tamper with evidence and shouldn’t be released. Two of Ghosn’s earlier requests to be released on bail were rejected.
Ghosn allegedly moved $15 million of personal losses to the car company’s accounts
Ghosn’s attorney, Junichiro Hironaka, has criticized the Tokyo Detention Center’s ‘hostage justice,’ saying the long detentions tend to encourage false confessions
A woman believed to be Ghosn’s wife, Carole Ghosn, was seen leaving the detention center on Wednesday. A date for her husband’s trial has not yet been set.
Ghosn vehemently protests his innocent in falsifying financial reports because the compensation he is alleged to have under-reported was never paid or decided upon, he claims.
The breach of trust allegations center on a temporary transfer of Ghosn’s investment losses to Nissan’s books that he says caused no losses to the automaker.
The charge also points to payments to a Saudi businessman that he says were for legitimate services.
Nissan Motor Co. declined comment on the criminal case but said an internal investigation had found unethical conduct.
Ghosn was dismissed as chairman in November, although he remains on the board, pending a decision at a shareholders’ meeting.
Ghosn’s family has said that he has lost weight while in detention, and he looked thinner in his court appearance.
Hironaka has said he is in good spirits. Ghosn thanked his family and friends, who, he said, ‘stood by me throughout this terrible ordeal.’