Japan: Prosecutors warned court that Ghosn’s bail bond was too low to prevent escape
TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - A bail bond of only several billion yen would not stop former Nissan Motor Co. boss Carlos Ghosn from fleeing, warned the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office repeatedly to the Tokyo District Court.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office had repeatedly warned the Tokyo District Court that a bail bond of only several billion yen would not stop former Nissan Motor Co. boss Carlos Ghosn from fleeing, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
Ghosn, 65, who has been indicted on charges of violating the Companies Law among other charges, was released on bail after paying a bond set at ¥1.5 billion (about $14 million) in total.
Despite repeated warnings from the prosecutors’ office before Ghosn’s release on bail last year, the former Nissan chairman’s escape from Japan to Lebanon could not be prevented.
Courts usually set the bail bond amount that must be posted for a defendant to gain release. The money is forfeited if the defendant escapes. The bond amount is calculated according to the defendant’s assets from the viewpoint of whether the amount would be enough to prevent a defendant from escaping or destroying evidence.
In January last year, Ghosn repeatedly requested bail after he was indicted on charges of financial misconduct. The prosecutors objected, saying, “If released on bail, Ghosn would be highly likely to flee overseas or destroy evidence.”
The defendant suggested the bond be set at several hundred million yen because he “had little cash on hand,” according to sources.
The district prosecutors estimated Ghosn’s assets to be at least ¥10 billion in cash and securities and had told the court that it would be impossible to prevent the defendant from fleeing if the bail bond was set too low.
Nevertheless, after receiving the third bail request from Ghosn, the district court granted bail on March 5, setting the bond at ¥1 billion. The defendant posted bail and was released the following day.
Ghosn was rearrested in April — this time on charges of aggravated breach of trust involving a Nissan-affiliated dealership in Oman — and released on bail shortly after. Bail this time was set at ¥500 million, which prosecutors again argued was too low.
One of Ghosn’s bail conditions was a ban on traveling abroad, a condition he broke on Dec. 29. He is believed to have used a private jet to escape with the help of others, including a former member of the Green Berets, a special forces unit in the U.S. Army. Overseas media has reported that the escape likely cost from several million dollars to more than $20 million. Ghosn is suspected of using his abundant assets to pay for the getaway.
On Dec. 31, the district court decided to confiscate the bond posted by Ghosn.
Several senior prosecutors have criticized the court, saying Ghosn had fled just as they warned. Regrets have even been expressed within the Tokyo District Court that “the bail bond amount was not sufficient.”