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Tokyo court decides not to extend Ghosn's detention, may release soon

Tokyo court decides not to extend Ghosn's detention, may release soon
Media members crowd in front of Tokyo Detention Center, where Nissan's arrested chairman Carlos Ghosn is being held, after a Tokyo court unexpectedly decided not to extend his detention, in Tokyo Japan December 20, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato   -   Copyright  ISSEI KATO(Reuters)
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TOKYO (Reuters) – A Tokyo court on Thursday unexpectedly decided not to extend the detention of Nissan Motor Co’s <7201.T> ousted chairman, Carlos Ghosn, meaning he may soon be released from jail where he has been confined since his arrest for alleged financial misconduct.

The Tokyo District Court said it also decided against extending detention for Greg Kelly, a former Nissan executive who was first arrested along with Ghosn on Nov. 19. Lawyers for both men were not immediately available for comment.

It was unclear whether prosecutors will appeal the decision. Shin Kukimoto, deputy prosecutor at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, said only that his office will respond “appropriately”.

Ghosn has been indicted for allegedly understating his income over a five-year period from 2010. He was re-arrested on Dec. 10 for the same alleged crime covering the past three years. The 10-day detention period in the second instance ran out on Thursday.

The court had widely been expected to extend the detention, as granting bail to suspects who insist on their innocence is unusual in Japan.

Public broadcaster NHK said Ghosn could be released on Thursday or Friday if any appeal by prosecutors is rejected by the court and bail is granted.

It was not immediately clear how much the bail would be, meaning it was still uncertain whether Ghosn’s release was possible.

Ghosn’s Nissan income is at the centre of allegations by Tokyo prosecutors, who have charged the once-feted executive for failing to disclose compensation that he had arranged to receive later.

Nissan has said its whistleblower investigation also uncovered personal use of company funds and other misconduct.

The scandal has shaken the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, with Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa calling for changes to weaken Renault SA’s <RENA.PA> control.

Renault has so far not replaced Ghosn as head of the French carmaker, saying Ghosn’s compensation had been in compliance with law and governance guidelines.

Documents seen by Reuters showed that executives at both Nissan and Renault were involved in discussions about compensating Ghosn out of the public eye.

A Nissan spokesman declined to comment on the court’s decision, saying he could only speak about the company’s investigations or executive misconduct.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Ritsuko Ando; Additional reporting by Chris Gallagher and Tim Kelly; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Christopher Cushing)

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