The amicable settlement between Carlos Ghosn and the United States SEC at the end of September 2019, triggered a legal offensive by Carlos Ghosn’s defence team. Le Monde newspaper reported that the former CEO’s lawyers were preparing a major counter-attack.

Le Figaro newspaper provided a summary of what was at stake:

“Reflecting the importance of the whole affair, the case of the defense sometimes resembles a “fresco”. It features major protagonists (Carlos Ghosn himself, Emmanuel Macron), institutions (the Japanese Ministry for Industry, the French Government Shareholding Agency), and secondary characters who play a big part in how the plot unfolds (Hari Nada, Hideaki Ohnuma). The reader is taken on a long voyage (to Beirut, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Yokohama, etc.) lasting from 1999 up to the present day.”

And the counter-attack was not found wanting.

On 24 October 2019, immediately after the monthly hearing at the Tokyo District Court, Carlos Ghosn’s legal team gave a press conference at which they requested that all charges should be dropped and the case against their client dismissed.

In the view of the international defence team, the case against their client had involved numerous breaches of the law by Japanese prosecutors. Carlos Ghosn’s Japanese lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, put it in a nutshell by stating that, “the investigation itself is illegal”.

And, unusually for Japan, the situation was reported in the Japanese media which had previously devoted little time or space to the arguments of the defense.

In a press release, the defense team called for all charges against Carlos Ghosn to be dropped and reiterated that Mr Ghosn is innocent of the crimes of which he stands accused.

On Cnews and France Info, Jean-Yves Le Borgne explained how “Nissan and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) colluded in a bid to renationalise Nissan and this meant that Carlos Ghosn had to be ousted”:

Moreover, Mr Le Borgne went on to explain that 6,000 pieces of evidence had been destroyed and lawyers for the defense only had access to a small part of the case file:

In the view of the international defence team, the following is a comprehensive list of the illegal acts and serious breaches committed by the prosecutors:

  • Colluding with certain Nissan executives and government officials, including from METI, to prosecute Mr. Ghosn for the purpose of ousting him from the Alliance in order to head off further integration between Nissan and Renault
  • Illegally ceding prosecutorial and investigative powers to Nissan employees
  • Illegally relying 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 
  • Abusing Japan’s new plea bargaining law to procure false and misleading testimony and ignore admitted wrongdoing by Nissan executives
  • Deploying Nissan employees to unlawfully invade Mr. Ghosn’s places of residence and illegally seize his personal property and confidential, attorney-client privileged files of his personal attorney  
  • Illegally seizing Mr. Ghosn’s wife, Carole Ghosn’s, cell phone and other personal property and confidential, attorney-client privileged notes and legal documents Mr. Ghosn had prepared for his defense
  • Denying Mr. Ghosn’s right to a speedy trial – even now, nearly one year after Mr. Ghosn’s arrest, there is no confirmed date for trial on the FIEL charges and no trial date at all for the Company Act charges 
  • Systematically, pervasively and unlawfully leaking confidential information to the media for the purpose of destroying Mr. Ghosn’s reputation and biasing the public against him, and falsely denying to the Court that they have done so 
  • Arbitrarily and discriminatorily arresting and prosecuting Mr. Ghosn, who is not Japanese, while ignoring admitted misconduct by Japanese executives of Nissan

The defense team also used this pretrial hearing to reiterate that Carlos Ghosn was innocent of the four charges brought against him (breach of Financial Instruments and Exchange Law and breach of trust).