Japanese lawyer's office raided in Carlos Ghosn inquiry

Business | 8 Jan 2020 11:38 am

Tokyo prosecutors raided a Japanese lawyer’s office today where former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn had visited regularly before skipping bail last week and fleeing to Lebanon.

Japanese news footage showed prosecutors marching into Junichiro Hironaka’s office in Tokyo, where a woman answering the phone said the lawyers weren’t there to comment and hung up. Prosecutors declined immediate comment.

Ghosn was under strict bail conditions while preparing for his trial on financial misconduct allegations. But he had been allowed to use a computer at his l awyer’s office under those conditions.

Hironaka has previously said he was stunned by Ghosn’s departure. Ghosn said from Lebanon he fled to escape injustice.

Earlier today, a statement released in Ghosn’s defense slammed the automaker’s internal investigation as flawed and aimed only at taking him down.

“Nissan’s claim that it conducted ‘a robust, thorough internal investigation’ is a gross perversion of the truth,” said a statement from French consultancy company Image Sept for the defense team. “It was initiated and carried out for the specific, predetermined purpose of taking down Carlos Ghosn to prevent him from further integrating Nissan and Renault, which threatened the independence of Nissan, one of Japan’s iconic, flagship companies.”

Ghosn, who led the Japanese automaker for two decades, has repeatedly characterized the Japanese criminal case against him as meant to block a fuller merger with Nissan’s French alliance partner Renault.

Nissan Motor Co said yesterday it would continue to pursue legal action against Ghosn and reiterated its allegations that Ghosn engaged in serious misconduct while leading the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance.

The statement from the French consultants said Nissan never questioned Ghosn directly about the allegations and asserted Nissan has not targeted others at the company, such as Hiroto Saikawa, Ghosn’s successor.

Saikawa resigned last year after allegations related to dubious income surfaced against him. He has not been charged.

It also said a Nissan employee who admitted to wrongdoing was involved in the investigation.

Nissan faces trial as a company in Japan, and it has indicated it will comply and pay required fines.

Ghosn was charged with under-reporting his future compensation and with breach of trust in diverting Nissan money for his personal benefit. He has repeatedly said the compensation was never decided and the payments were for legitimate business.

He was expected to hold a news conference later today in Beirut.-AP

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