Attorneys for Carlos Ghosn are asking the Tokyo District Court to throw out charges against the former auto titan, citing “illegal prosecutorial misconduct.”
Ghosn’s lawyers said in a statement Thursday that Tokyo prosecutors formed “a secret task force” with Nissan executives and government officials who “colluded” to oust him from the global auto alliance he had built.
The lawyers said they submitted court filings that show a pattern of illegal misconduct by prosecutors, and argued that it would be impossible for Ghosn to get a fair trial. They called for all charges against him to be dismissed.
Ghosn, who is out on bail in Tokyo, is facing criminal charges including under-reporting his salary and abusing his position by transferring personal investment losses to Nissan (NSANF). He was chairman of Nissan (NSANF) and chairman and CEO of its alliance partner Renault (RNLSY) at the time of his arrest in November 2018, and has since been removed from both positions.
Ghosn’s lawyers said Thursday that Nissan and Japanese government officials wanted to prevent Ghosn from bringing Nissan and Renault closer together, because they feared for the autonomy of one of Japan’s most successful companies.
The prosecutors relied “on a hopelessly conflicted and biased Nissan internal investigation whose pre-determined mission was to find any potential allegation or perception of wrongdoing by Mr. Ghosn, not the true facts,” Ghosn’s lawyers said.
A spokesperson for Tokyo Prosecutors Office declined to comment on the court filings, saying “we do not answer inquiries on individual cases.”
Nissan spokesperson Jun Yoshihisa said the company doesn’t comment on legal proceedings.
The Japanese carmaker has been struggling to recover from the ousting of Ghosn. Nissan named a new CEO earlier this month, after its former chief Hiroto Saikawa resigned following revelations that he was overpaid as part of a stock-related plan. He denied any wrongdoing, and said he would return excess funds.
Nissan reported a 45% drop in operating profit and a fall in revenue and car sales in May, when Saikawa said the carmaker had hit “rock bottom.” That prompted questions about whether the 65-year-old executive could survive. Profits have plummeted further since then, and Nissan said in July that it would slash roughly 12,500 jobs from its workforce worldwide.
Yoko Wakatsuki contributed to this report.