January 20, 2019 / 8:03 PM / 6 months ago

Detained ex-Nissan chairman Ghosn offers stock, passports for bail

(Reuters) - Ousted Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) chairman Carlos Ghosn has offered to post stock he owns in the automaker as collateral, surrender his passports and submit to electronic tracking as part of a renewed effort to persuade a Tokyo court to grant him bail while he awaits trial on charges of financial misconduct, a spokeswoman for the car executive said.

FILE PHOTO: Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, attends the Tomorrow In Motion event on the eve of press day at the Paris Auto Show, in Paris, France, October 1, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

Ghosn, imprisoned since his arrest on Nov. 19, has asked a Tokyo District Court for the second time to grant him bail after a request last week was denied. A hearing is scheduled for Monday evening in Tokyo.

He is willing to offer a higher bail amount to secure his release and remain in a Tokyo apartment his family has leased, the spokeswoman said, without specifying the bail amount.

“I remain imprisoned in the detention center, 64 days after I was arrested, with no release in sight,” Ghosn said in a statement on Sunday. “As the Court considers my bail application, I want to emphasize that I will reside in Japan and respect any and all bail conditions the Court concludes are warranted.”

Ghosn has denied three Japanese charges of financial misconduct, including understating his salary for eight years and temporarily transferring personal financial losses to Nissan’s books.

The Tokyo court last week denied his bail application, citing concerns that he was a flight risk, which the once-feted executive disputes.

Ghosn had planned to make his way to France if released and return to Japan for trial, but now intends to stay put, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“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,” Ghosn said in the statement. “I am not guilty of the charges against me and I look forward to defending my reputation in the courtroom. Nothing is more important to me or to my family.”

The Japanese government could not be reached immediately for comment. The Tokyo Public Prosecutors Office said it was not in a position to comment.

A Nissan spokesman declined to comment on Japanese judicial proceedings. It has said the company’s internal investigation had uncovered “substantial and convincing evidence of misconduct” involving Ghosn and that the probe is ongoing and broadening.

Ghosn’s lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, expects his client to be held until trial, which he said could begin in about six months.

If granted bail, Ghosn said he would remain in a Tokyo apartment and wear a tracking device to monitor his whereabouts, the spokeswoman said. Ghosn would also pay for private security guards approved by local authorities to watch him, report daily to Japanese prosecutors and refrain from speaking to individuals who might be witnesses in his case, the spokeswoman said.

Ghosn has not spoken to his family since being detained, the spokeswoman said.

Ghosn spearheaded Nissan’s turnaround two decades ago, and his arrest has jolted the auto industry, while muddying the outlook for Nissan’s three-way alliance with France’s Renault SA (RENA.PA) and Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T).

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

Reporting by Mike Spector in New York; Additional reporting by Maki Shiraki, Naomi Tajitsu, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Tim Kelly and and Chang-Ran Kim,; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Susan Thomas

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