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'High chance' of acquittal in Japan for Carlos Ghosn and right-hand man: ex-prosecutor Open in fullscreen

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'High chance' of acquittal in Japan for Carlos Ghosn and right-hand man: ex-prosecutor

Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn and representative director Greg Kelly face financial misconduct charges [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 22 January, 2020

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Lawyer Nobuo Gohara told reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday that he believes Nissan tycoon Carlos Ghosn had a 'high chance' of acquittal had he not fled Japan.
Carlos Ghosn's right-hand man is very likely to be acquitted on charges of under-reporting his salary at Nissan, a former prosecutor said Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Former Nissan director Greg Kelly faces charges of financial misconduct but lawyer Nobuo Gohara believes he, as well as Ghosn had he remained in Japan instead of fleeing to Lebanon, will be found innocent.

"Personally, I believe that there was a very high chance for Mr Ghosn to be acquitted based on the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act," Gohara, who doesn't represent either Kelly or Ghosn, told reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday.

"Likewise for Mr Kelly, there is a high likelihood that he will be acquitted as well."

Former Nissan chief Ghosn smuggled himself out of Japan last month to Lebanon in an elaborate escape that humiliated Japan's law enforcement officials and his defence lawyers.

It was the latest twist in a saga that has captivated the automotive industry ever since November 2018 when Ghosn was arrested at a Tokyo airport after a team of prosecutors stormed onto his private jet.

Lawyer Gohara met Ghosn multiple times in Japan before he fled to Lebanon and has criticised what he describes as Japan's "hostage" justice system.

Ghosn and Kelly are accused of financial misconduct over allegedly faililng to report more than $109 million in salary. Both deny any wrongdoing.

Read more: Lebanese lawyers sue Carlos Ghosn over Israel trip

Ghosn faces further charges of aggravated breach of trust for using company funds for personal purposes. The tycoon spent 130 days in detention while in Japan and claims he was a victim of a plot by Nissan and Japanese officials.

The Japanese lawyer nicknamed the "Razor" who was spearheading Carlos Ghosn's defence said Thursday he is quitting the case after his client skipped bail and fled Japan for Lebanon.

Junichiro Hironaka's office issued a brief statement saying they had "filed with the Tokyo District Court letters of resignation for all lawyers... connected with all cases related to Mr Carlos Ghosn".

Hironaka, 74, who earned his nickname for sharp legal strategies and an enviable acquittal record, has said he was "dumbfounded" by Ghosn's escape, which he discovered via the media on the morning his client fled.

Another one of Ghosn's legal team, Takashi Takano, has also thrown in the towel on the case, a source close to his office told AFP.

Hiroshi Kawatsu, the third man in the legal "dream team" assembled by the former Nissan boss, has not publicly commented on his plans and could not be immediately reached for comment.

Ghosn is believed to have left Japan by hiding in a large case for audio equipment on a private jet, aided by a team of operatives.

In Lebanon, he gave a major press conference and a series of media interviews in a bid to clear his name. He also lashed out at Japan's judicial system, claiming he felt he would not receive a fair trial in Tokyo.

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