Carlos Ghosn may get bail as Tokyo court refuses to extend detention

A pedestrian walks past a television screen showing a news program featuring former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn in Tokyo

It is rare for a court to reject a request to extend the detention period, said Tokyo deputy chief prosecutor Shin Kukimoto on Thursday.

The Nissan spokesman said the company can't comment on "the sequence of events leading to Kelly's detention by the Prosecutors Office, who acted at their discretion".

Former Nissan chairman Ghosn, 64, has been in detention since his November 19 arrest on suspicion of under-declaring his income by some five billion yen ($44 million) between 2010 and 2015. Prosecutors have also accused him of continuing the practice into 2017 but haven't indicted him on that allegation yet.

"This might become a turning point that changes the impression of the special investigation department as being nearly sacred", said Yoji Ochiai, a former prosecutor who now works as a lawyer.

The Japanese firms in the three-way alliance with Renault - Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors - have both sacked the Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian as chairman. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

According to a source close to the investigation, Nissan would seek to bar Ghosn from their premises if he were to be released.

A Tokyo court on Thursday unexpectedly decided not to extend thechairman, Carlos Ghosn, meaning he may soon be released from jail where he has been confined since his arrest for alleged financial misconduct. Friday's new allegation would allow prosecutors two days before seeking a likely court approval of extending Ghosn's detention up to 20 more days, meaning he would have to stay in the Tokyo Detention House until January 11, way past Christmas and New Year holidays, most likely without turkey or pumpkin pie. Representative Director Grey Kelly was also accused of helping Ghosn misreport his income. Ghosn's lawyers have said the charge is flawed because the compensation agreement wasn't properly ratified, according to a statement from the office of Motonari Otsuru, Ghosn's lawyer. The conviction rate in Japan is more than 99%. Ghosn has denied wrongdoing.

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While Nissan ousted Ghosn from his role as chairman shortly after the initial arrest, Renault has so far not replaced him.

The latest twist to the rollercoaster saga came hours after Ghosn, through his lawyer and quoted by Japanese public broadcaster NHK, vowed to restore his good name in court and to hold a news conference after his release. Ghosn also profited by having the company transfer a total of $14.7 million to another company to benefit himself and that company's owner, who helped in the contract manipulation, prosecutors said.

Ghosn has been widely credited with saving Nissan from failure and bringing it together with Renault to create a formidable auto union.

Saikawa and Bollore met in person for the first time since Carlos Ghosn, who had been leading the Japanese-French automotive alliance, was arrested last month for allegedly failing to report part of his pay from Nissan.

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

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

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