TOKYO – Two Japanese lawyers defending the former Nissan Motor chairman in a case of financial misconduct have stepped down from defending the jailed executive without giving reasons, according to one of the attorneys on Wednesday.
The lawyers, Motonari Otsuru and Masato Oshikubo, were heading the legal team defending Carlos Ghosn. The advocates were from the same law firm San-Law.
Their resignation was communicated by Otsuru to the Tokyo District Court, where the case is underway, without giving any reasons on why they were quitting Ghosn’s defense team.
The two lawyers, along with a third one, appeared before the media on Jan. 8 to provide details of the legal proceedings against Ghosn following his arrest in Tokyo on Nov. 19, 2018.
According to state-owned NHK newspaper, Otsuru has been replaced by Junichiro Hironaka, a renowned lawyer known for having successfully dealt with cases involving high profile personalities.
Hironaka and his team are known for having got the acquittal of Ichiro Ozawa, an influential Japanese politician and former leader of the main opposition group Democratic Party of Japan, in a case involving alleged financial crime related to raising political funds in 2012, among other cases.
Otsuru was the head of special investigations of the public prosecutor’s office at the Tokyo district court in 2005, and specializes in tax evasions and financial crimes, among other areas.
Nissan Motor estimates that 9.2 billion yen ($83.24 million) were paid to Ghosn, who has been in prison in Tokyo since Nov. 19, 2019, accused of not declaring a part of his income from Nissan Motor between 2011 and 2018.
His bail plea was rejected for a second time on Jan. 22 after a Tokyo turned down his request on the grounds that Ghosn could flee the country and potentially destroy evidence.
His lawyers had predicted this, saying he will probably be detained until the trial begins, which could take about six months owing to the complexity of the investigation and its multilingual documents.
The 64-year-old is also accused of having violated a Japanese business regulation by using Nissan to cover a series of personal financial losses during the 2008 crisis, and of making allegedly unjustified payments to a Saudi businessman.
Ghosn has told the court that the allegations are meritless and unsubstantiated.
Nissan replaced Ghosn with Hiroto Saikawa as president, and Renault soon followed suit, replacing him with Jean-Dominique Senard as president.