Christmas Comes Early For Former Nissan Boss

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Carlos Ghosn could be a very happy man tomorrow.

Former Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi chairman Carlos Ghosn has been in a cold Japanese jail cell since his arrest on November 19 for allegedly under-reporting his salary by tens of millions of dollars for several years, as well as other cases of "serious misconduct." Today, however, might just be Ghosn's lucky day. According to Automotive News Europe, a Tokyo court has decided not to extend Ghosn's detention. If so, Ghosn could go free as soon as tomorrow (Friday).

His lawyers stated they plan to apply for bail, but that may no longer be necessary. Japanese prosecutors can still appeal this court's decision to a higher court or even indict Ghosn on another charge, but as of this writing, this does not appear to be happening.

Ghosn's close aide, Greg Kelly, who was also arrested for aiding his boss in his misconduct allegations, could be going free as well. Following his original arrest exactly one month ago, Ghosn was actually re-arrested on December 10 for the same alleged crime as before, though this time it was for the past three years. That second 10-day detention period ends today, so the courts had to make a decision.

But what's interesting is that it was widely expected for the court to extend Ghosn's time in jail. Even granting bail to suspects insisting on their innocence is typically not done in Japan. Put it this way: the Japanese courts and criminal justice system works very differently than in the US. Meanwhile, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance is still struggling with the aftermath of Ghosn's arrest.

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Some even believe his arrest was really an ouster, coup d'état style, by Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who felt Ghosn simply had too much power. Saikawa also supposedly felt Nissan did not play a large enough role in the alliance, and this was his way of making changes. However, Ghosn still remains head of Renault but has been removed from his roles at Nissan and Mitsubishi. The French are still demanding to see a complete list and evidence of Ghosn's alleged financial misconduct.

But if Ghosn is indeed freed in the next day or so, that could spell bad news for Saikawa. Ghosn will now be able to tell his side of the story.


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