He also contradicted an assertion by Anthony Ghosn, Ghosn’s son, to France’s Journal du Dimanche that Ghosn was being pressured to sign a confession printed in Japanese that he didn’t understand.
“Not once has Mr. Ghosn expressed to us any concerns about being asked to sign a prosecutor’s statement in Japanese over concerns about the accuracy of translation,” said Otsuru, a former lead prosecutor at the division that is spearheading the investigation against his client.
Meanwhile, if Ghosn were as wealth-obsessed as prosecutors portray him, he might have never ended up in a Japanese jail cell. In his statement to the court, Ghosn recounted how “four major companies” tried to recruit him away from Nissan, including Ford and General Motors.
Despite the lure of bigger money, he said he felt a duty to finish his revival work at Nissan.
“Even though their proposals were very attractive, I could not in good conscience abandon Nissan while we were in the midst of our turnaround,” Ghosn said in his prepared remarks.
“Nissan is an iconic Japanese company that I care about deeply.”
But after Ghosn stayed with Nissan for nearly two decades, an internal investigation at the company uncovered what Saikawa, Ghosn’s longtime No. 2, called “significant acts of misconduct.”
Ghosn was indicted Dec. 10 for allegedly falsifying securities filings by not reporting ¥4.9 billion ($45.1 million) in deferred compensation in the 2010-14 fiscal years.
Since then, he was slapped with two other indictments Friday.
The first is similar to the original — for allegedly underreporting compensation, again to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, but over the 2015-17 fiscal years.
The second indictment was on separate allegations of temporarily shifting $17.1 million in personal swap contract losses to Nissan, and having Nissan pay $14.7 million to a business associate who allegedly helped Ghosn handle the red ink.
If convicted on all three charges, Ghosn could face up to 15 years in prison, prosecutors said.
Otsuru conceded Ghosn feels “dissatisfaction” toward some former Nissan colleagues.
But the defense strategy overlooks any bad blood and trains squarely on the legal issues. Even in the Japanese media, many lawyers are calling Ghosn’s counterarguments persuasive.
“It is not at all about winning sympathy for leniency or a suspended sentence,” said Nobuo Gohara, a former prosecutor now in private practice. “The prosecutors’ allegations are all wrong in the first place. I think he is innocent, just as he said so himself in court.”