Two Ghosn lawyers resign ahead of trail at Tokyo District Court
Two lawyers defending former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn in a case of financial misconduct stepped down on Wednesday ahead of preparations for the jailed executive's trial. The lawyers, Motonari Otsuru and Masato Oshikubo, submitted their resignations at the Tokyo District Court. Their resignation was communicated by Otsuru to the court, where the case is underway, without giving any reasons on why they were quitting Ghosn's defence team, Efe news reported.
The two lawyers, along with a third one, appeared before the media on January 8 to provide details of the legal proceedings against Ghosn following his arrest in Tokyo on November 19, 2018. According to state-owned NHK newspaper, Otsuru has been replaced by Junichiro Hironaka, a renowned lawyer known for having successfully dealt with cases involving high profile personalities.
Hironaka and his team are known for having got the acquittal of Ichiro Ozawa, an influential Japanese politician and former leader of the main opposition group Democratic Party of Japan, in a case involving alleged financial crime related to raising political funds in 2012, among other cases. Otsuru was the head of special investigations of the public prosecutor's office at the Tokyo district court in 2005 and specializes in tax evasions and financial crimes, among other areas.
Nissan Motor estimates that 9.2 billion yen ($83.24 million) were paid to Ghosn, who has been in prison in Tokyo since November, accused of not declaring a part of his income from Nissan Motors between 2011 and 2018. His bail plea was rejected for a second time on January 22 on the grounds that Ghosn could flee the country and potentially destroy evidence.
The 64-year-old is also accused of having violated a Japanese business regulation by using Nissan to cover a series of personal financial losses during the 2008 crisis and of making allegedly unjustified payments to a Saudi businessman. Ghosn has called the allegations meritless and unsubstantiated. Nissan replaced Ghosn with Hiroto Saikawa as President. Renault soon followed suit and replaced him with Jean-Dominique Senard as President.
(With inputs from agencies.)