TOKYO (AP) — Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn appeared in a Japanese courtroom yesterday for a hearing ahead of his trial on accusations of financial misconduct.
The session was the first in a series of hearings to iron out logistics for Ghosn’s actual trial, the date for which has not been set.
Ghosn, who led the Japanese automaker for two decades, was arrested in November and charged with underreporting his income and breach of trust. He was released on bail in March, but rearrested on April 4 on fresh accusations.
He was released again April 25 on an additional 500 million yen (USD4.5 million) bail.
Ghosn has maintained his innocence, denouncing his arrest as “a conspiracy” by some at Nissan Motor Co.
Nissan, which is allied with Renault SA of France, has seen profits nose-dive amid the fallout from Ghosn’s arrest.
Profit at the maker of the March subcompact, Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models totalled 319.1 billion yen (USD2.9 billion) for the fiscal year ended in March, down from 746.9 billion yen the previous fiscal year.
Yokohama-based Nissan is forecasting dimmer results ahead, with profit for the fiscal year through March 2020 expected to drop to 170 billion yen (USD1.5 billion).
Nissan has promised to strengthen governance, which experts say lagged behind other global and top Japanese companies.
Ghosn has hired a strong legal team, including Takashi Takano and Junichiro Hironaka, which has vowed to clear his name. Hironaka was seen walking into the courtroom yesterday with Ghosn, both wearing suits.
Ghosn’s bail conditions forbid him from contacting his wife. Prosecutors say that’s to prevent evidence tampering.
Ghosn’s lawyers have challenged that restriction, saying it is a violation of human rights, but the Supreme Court turned down the appeal on Tuesday.
Some legal experts say Ghosn’s trial may not start for months, even possibly until next year.