Tokyo prosecutors' attempts to seize a computer used by former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn at his lawyer's Tokyo office, apparently in connection with his escape from Japan, were blocked Wednesday, Ghosn's defense team said.
Investigators of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office visited the office of Junichiro Hironaka, a member of Ghosn's defense team, following his refusal to voluntarily submit the personal computer that Ghosn used there. But the lawyer did not allow them to enter the office.
"In terms of lawyers' confidentiality, we used the right to refuse seizure based on criminal procedure law, and asked (the investigators) to leave," the defense team said in a statement.
(Ghosn, left, and his lawyer Hironaka in Tokyo in May)
Meanwhile, sources familiar with the matter said public prosecutors had asked the Tokyo District Court to require Ghosn to post bail of at least several billion yen given his vast financial resources, a figure substantially higher than the amount eventually set by the court in March last year.
Prosecutors had demanded the hefty bail based on a calculation that Ghosn's assets exceeded 10 billion yen ($92 million). But the former tycoon's defense team disputed that calculation, and the Tokyo court decided to set Ghosn's bail at 1 billion yen, the sources said.
After his release on March 6 last year, Ghosn was returned to detention on April 4 over a fresh charge before being released again on April 25 after paying a further 500 million yen in bail.
Since Ghosn's escape to Lebanon in late December required various maneuvers to evade security and the use of a private jet to leave Japan, prosecutors and police are investigating how he secured the funds to successfully carry out the operation, the sources added.
According to the sources, prosecutors, whose tally of Ghosn's assets included cash, stock holdings and other financial products, argued that Ghosn's escape could not be prevented unless bail were set at several billion yen or more.
But the defense side countered with a lower estimate of Ghosn's total assets, saying they should be valued at several hundred million yen. Eventually, the Tokyo court set the initial bail at a much lower figure than that sought by prosecutors.
After Ghosn violated the terms of his release, the court forfeited his 1.5 billion yen in bail.
Ghosn, who was initially arrested on Nov. 19, 2018 for alleged financial misconduct, fled Japan, criticizing what he called the "rigged Japanese judicial system."