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Ousted Ghosn offers to wear ankle tag for bail

Former Nissan chairman held in custody for 65 days makes plea to Japanese court ahead of next hearing

Carlos Ghosn wants closer contact with his lawyers. EPA
Carlos Ghosn wants closer contact with his lawyers. EPA

Ousted Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn has offered to wear an electronic ankle tag and hire guards to monitor him in an unusual bid to secure his release on bail after two months of detention in Japan for alleged financial crimes.

Mr Ghosn is also willing to remain in Tokyo, where he has leased an apartment, and post stock he owns in Nissan as collateral, his spokeswoman said. A new bail hearing is set for Monday after an earlier request was denied due partly to concerns the French executive was a flight risk.

"As the court considers my bail application, I want to emphasise that I will reside in Japan and respect any and all bail conditions the Court concludes are warranted," Mr Ghosn said in a statement released by his US representatives,

Release would allow Mr Ghosn to meet more frequently with his lawyers and defend himself before the board of Renault, where he remains chairman and chief executive, amid calls for his removal and potential moves to restructure the Nissan tie-up, Reuters said.

However, an official at the Japanese justice ministry told Agence France Presse: "There is no system in Japan in which a person accused in a criminal case can be released with such a tracking bracelet.

"The court sets the bail sum and can also add appropriate conditions such as limitations on where the accused should stay," added the official.

As his arrest on November 19 continued to cloud the outlook for Nissan's three-way alliance with France's Renault and Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan said it was not the time to discuss revising the partners' capital ties.

Mr Ghosn, who spearheaded Nissan's turnaround two decades ago, had pushed for a deeper tie-up between Nissan and Renault, including possibly a full merger, despite strong reservations at the Japanese firm.

"We are not at the stage for such discussions," Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said on Monday.

Mr Saikawa also said he had not heard directly about a reported French proposal to integrate the Japanese car maker's management with Renault, adding that it was not the time to discuss revising the partners' capital ties.

The Nikkei newspaper reported on Sunday that a French government delegation had informed Tokyo that it would seek an integration of Renault and Nissan, most likely under the umbrella of a single holding company.


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"Since I have not heard this directly, I cannot comment," Mr Saikawa said.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK quoted French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire as telling journalists that an integration proposal was "not on the table now".

A source familiar with Nissan's thinking said the reported French proposal did not "make sense" given the two companies' different cultures, Renault's lower productivity and Nissan's bigger contribution of key technology.

"It's a virtual merger, I don't think it makes sense," the source said, adding he had not heard directly of such a French proposal.

Mr Ghosn denies any wrongdoing as he awaits trial on charges of financial misconduct.

"I will attend my trial not only because I am legally obligated to do so, but because I am eager to finally have the opportunity to defend myself," he said on Sunday.

"I am not guilty of the charges against me and I look forward to defending my reputation in the courtroom."

Renault, which dominates the partnership through its 43.4 per cent stake in Nissan, is expected to meet within days to consider potential candidates to replace Mr Ghosn as chief executive and chairman.

The co-chair of a committee set up by Nissan to examine the root cause of Mr Ghosn's alleged financial misconduct and propose corporate governance reforms said on Sunday he believed Mr Ghosn may have had questionable ethical standards.

"Having read the report on the internal investigation, my initial impression was that the head of the company may have had questionable ethical standards," committee co-chair Seiichiro Nishioka said on Sunday after the panel held its first meeting.

Updated: January 21, 2019 02:37 PM