Nissan ex-chairman Carlos Ghosn's lawyers allege collusion, want charges dropped

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The lawyers of former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who is awaiting trial in Japan, said Thursday they have requested that financial misconduct charges against him be dismissed.

They said in a statement that they filed papers in Tokyo District Court alleging prosecutorial misconduct that would prevent Ghosn from having a fair trial.

The filings say the case results from unlawful collusion between prosecutors, government officials and Nissan executives to drum up allegations.

The papers Ghosn’s lawyers filed in Tokyo District Court last week allege collusion between the prosecutors, government officials and executives at Nissan Motor Co. to drum up criminal allegations in order to remove him as chairman.

They wanted to prevent Ghosn from further integrating Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA, according to the lawyers’ statement released Thursday.

“To execute this scheme, the prosecutors illegally ceded their investigative powers to certain Nissan employees and consultants, and together with Nissan, unlawfully trampled Mr. Ghosn’s legal rights in Japan and around the world,” it said.

Ghosn says he is innocent. He was arrested in November 2018 and is out on bail. The prosecutors say they are confident they have a case.

The statement cited as misconduct the alleged abuse of the plea-bargaining system to get false and misleading testimony from Nissan employees and reliance on Nissan’s own investigation, which the lawyers call biased.

It also cited the seizure of papers related to his trial and media leaks intended to harm his reputation.

Ghosn’s legal team plans a news conference later Thursday.

The team includes Junichiro Hironaka, famous for winning acquittals in a nation with a 99 percent conviction rate.

Ghosn was sent to Japan by Renault in the late 1990s and is credited with turning around a then near-bankrupt Nissan and helping transform it into one of the world’s top auto alliances.

The charges against Ghosn allege under-reporting his promised compensation in documents and breaching trust in making dubious payments.

Ghosn’s defense argues the promised compensation that allegedly wasn’t properly reported was never agreed upon.

The defense also says allegations about dubious currency swaps caused no financial loss to Nissan.

The allegations about the dubious pay to Khaled Juffali Co., a Middle East business, are also groundless, according to the lawyers, as they say the payments were for legitimate services that benefited Nissan.

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