Lawyer defending ex-Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn resigns

Nissan wants a different chairman from Renault - concern for conflict of interest, power imbalance

Renault said Wednesday that its board has decided not to pay out the equivalent of two years of salary to ex-CEO Carlos Ghosn which would have been due to him under a non-compete clause in his contract.

Hironaka's career includes a successful defense of Atsuko Muraki, a former senior bureaucrat, against corruption charges.

In the latest twist to a saga that has gripped Japan and the business world since his stunning arrest in November, Ghosn confirmed in a statement from his detention centre that he had hired a new lead counsel. He has denied the charges. The scandal has already cost Ghosn his leadership positions at Nissan and partner Renault SA, and prosecutors say his alleged financial crimes could put him in prison for as many as 10 years.

He replaced former prosecutor Motonari Otsuru with hot-shot lawyer Junichiro Hironaka, who has a history of taking on high-profile cases and enjoys an enviable acquittal rate in a country where nearly every trial results in a guilty verdict.

The firm also tried to search Ghosn's apartments in Brazil, Lebanon and the Netherlands without informing Renault, the letter added.

"Otsuru was miscast. He worked at the heart of the special prosecutors' office so he was not someone who was going to go after them aggressively", Gohara said.


"Hironaka is an experienced defense lawyer who has won a number of cases". Go Kondo, Ghosn's third defense lawyer, was unavailable for comment.

In a statement, Ghosn thanked Otsuru for his team's "tireless and diligent work", calling him a "very capable and intelligent man and lawyer". "I look forward to defending myself vigorously, and this represents the beginning of the process of not only establishing my innocence but also shedding light on the circumstances that led to my unjust detention".

Ghosn has selected Mr Junichiro Hironaka as his new lawyer, the Sankei reported, citing unidentified people.

Ghosn, 64, told the Nikkei newspaper last month that Nissan executives opposed to his plans for closer ties with automaking partner Renault plotted to remove him.

As for Renault, the French government owns a 15% stake in the automaker and is its largest shareholder, giving it influence over decisions which also affect Nissan. Ghosn's aide and former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly, who was arrested the same day as the ex-chairman, is out on bail in Tokyo.

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