By Naomi Tajitsu and Maki Shiraki
TOKYO (Reuters) – Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn was set to walk out of a Japanese jail for a second time since his arrest last year on financial misconduct charges, after posting $4.5 million (£3.5 million) bail on Thursday and agreeing to curbs on contacting his wife.
A Tokyo court set a new condition for bail that Ghosn cannot meet or otherwise communicate with his wife Carole without prior permission, according to his defence lawyer. Carole was questioned following Ghosn’s re-arrest earlier this month on aggravated breach of trust charges.
Prosecutors have appealed the bail decision, but if it is rejected, the once-feted executive will be free to leave the detention centre where he has been in custody since April 4 to prepare for his criminal trial expected later this year.
Along with restricted access to his wife, Ghosn’s movements and communications will be closely monitored and restricted to prevent his fleeing the country and tampering with evidence, the Tokyo District court said.
Ghosn has been charged with enriching himself at a cost of $5 million to Nissan, temporarily transferring personal financial losses to his employer’s books and understating his salary during his time at the helm of Japan’s No. 2 automaker.
He has denied all charges against him.
The court said in a statement that it had approved a bail request from Ghosn’s defence team and set bail at 500 million yen (£3.4 million), roughly half his previous bail of 1 billion yen.
Its decision marks the second time Ghosn has made bail and is the latest turn in a scandal which has rocked the global auto industry and exposed tensions in the automaking partnership between Nissan and France’s Renault SA.
He was initially released last month, but then re-arrested earlier this month on the new charges, returning to the Tokyo detention centre where he had previously spent 108 days following his first arrest in November.
Ghosn has said he is the victim of a boardroom coup, accusing former Nissan colleagues of “backstabbing”, describing them as selfish rivals bent on derailing a closer alliance between the Japanese automaker and Renault, its top shareholder.
When he was last released, the former executive traded in his usual tailored suit and chauffeured sedan for a disguise of workman’s uniform, glasses and a mask to slip past reporters before being whisked away in a modest compact van.
(Reporting by Ran Kim; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Malcolm Foster, Chris Gallagher and Muralikumar Anantharaman)