Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Capital Business
Capital Business

Kenya

Ghosn shakes up legal team from Japanese cell

Motonari Otsuru, the chief lawyer for detained tycoon Carlos Ghosn, cut a cautious figure at his only press conference /AFP-File

TOKYO, Japan, Feb 13 – Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn Wednesday shook up his top legal team as he vowed to prove his innocence and defend himself with vigour against charges of financial misconduct.

In the latest twist to a saga that has gripped Japan and the business world since his stunning arrest in November, Ghosn confirmed in a statement from his detention centre that he had hired a new lead counsel.

He replaced former prosecutor Motonari Otsuru with hot-shot lawyer Junichiro Hironaka, who has a history of taking on high-profile cases and enjoys an enviable acquittal rate in a country where almost every trial results in a guilty verdict.

“I look forward to defending myself vigorously, and this represents the beginning of the process of not only establishing my innocence but also shedding light on the circumstances that led to my unjust detention,” said Ghosn, 64.

Earlier Otsuru’s firm issued a brief statement saying only that he and another lawyer had “submitted letters of resignation to the court as the defence lawyers for the case of Mr. Ghosn”.

The surprise shake-up came on the eve of an expected first meeting between the Tokyo District Court, prosecutors, and defence lawyers to discuss the outlines of Ghosn’s eventual trial.

Carlos Ghosn has been held in a Japanese detention centre since November/AFP-File

Ghosn thanked Otsuru and his team for their “tireless and diligent work and courage during the interrogation phase of my incarceration” and hailed his former counsel as a “very capable and intelligent man and lawyer”.

The Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian tycoon has languished in a Tokyo detention centre since November 19 on three charges of financial misconduct and has seen two bail requests refused, with the court judging him a flight risk.

In an interview with AFP and France’s Les Echos last month, he slammed his ongoing detention, saying that the refusal to free him “would not be normal in any other democracy.”

He faces charges that he under-reported his income between 2010 and 2015 to the tune of five billion yen ($46 million) and continued to do so for a further three years.

Ghosn also stands accused of a complex scheme to try to pass off personal foreign exchange losses to Nissan and using company funds to reimburse a Saudi contact who stumped up collateral for him.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

He told AFP in January that the allegations against him and his arrest were “a story of betrayal,” insisting “there is not one yen that I have received that was not reported”.

‘Fighting the charges’

Ghosn faces three charges of financial misconduct/AFP

Speaking outside his office, Hironaka, 73, confirmed that he had been asked to join the legal team after consulting with the tycoon and his family.

“I believe he (Ghosn) remains consistent about fighting (against the charges),” Hironaka said.

Hironaka is a veteran and celebrated defence lawyer and was involved in the successful defence in 2012 of influential politician Ichiro Ozawa, a shrewd election strategist accused of playing a role in misreporting political funds.

There had been no public sign of a rift between Ghosn and his lead lawyers, though neither the executive nor the attorney have spoken much publicly since the arrest.

Otsuru gave a single press conference after Ghosn made a brief court appearance on January 8 to challenge his ongoing detention.

The owlish defence lawyer cut a cautious figure at the press event, telling journalists that his client was unlikely to make bail before his case came to court, which he said could take six months.

He also pointedly declined to criticise Ghosn’s detention conditions, despite some international concern about the repeated extension of the auto executive’s pre-trial custody.

Otsuru said he was meeting Ghosn regularly for several hours at a time, describing his then-client as focused.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“He’s very calm and logical in his current situation,” Otsuru said.

Although he has taken on some of Japan’s most high-publicity cases, Otsuru is known for maintaining a low media profile and little is known about his personal life.

A former prosecutor, the bespectacled 63-year-old with floppy greying hair earned the soubriquet “the breaker” as he was so good at extracting confessions from suspects.

In a twist of fate, representing Ghosn’s pitted him against prosecutor Hiroshi Morimoto, a former colleague.

Click to comment
Advertisement

More on Capital Business

Executive Lifestyle

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 12 – The country’s super wealthy individuals are increasing their holding of bonds, gold and cash, a new report by Knight...

Ask Kirubi

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 9 – Businessman and industrialist Dr. Chris Kirubi has urged members of the public to exercise extreme caution when making any...

Ask Kirubi

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 24 – Businessman and industrialist Dr. Chris Kirubi is set to own half of Centum Investment Company PLC, following a go-ahead...

Headlines

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 18 – Commercial Banks have been ordered to provide relief to borrowers on their personal loans, with loans eligible from March...

Ask Kirubi

It is without a doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the whole world by surprise. Although its full impact is yet to be...

Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun17 – Kenya’s tea leaves manufacturer Kericho Gold, has been awarded the Superbrands Seal by Superbrands East Africa for their quality variety...

Coronavirus

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 13 – As the local telecommunications industry gears up to roll out 5G networks in the country, the Communications Authority of...

Coronavirus

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 22 – Airtel Kenya is offering free internet access for students in order to enable continued learning at home in the...