A court in Japan has denied a prosecutors’ request to extend the detention of former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn.
The decision by the Tokyo District Court on Thursday means Ghosn, one of the global car industry’s most powerful leaders, may soon be released from jail where he has been confined since his arrest for alleged financial misconduct.
The 64-year-old executive was arrested on November 19, along with aide Greg Kelly, over allegations that they under-reported Ghosn’s pay by about five billion yen ($44m) between 2011 and 2015. Both have since been charged.
Tokyo prosecutors last week added a second allegation that they also under-reported another four billion yen ($36bn) in Ghosn’s pay for the period 2016-2018, for which their first 10-day detention was to expire later on Thursday.
The court also decided to not extend detention for Kelly.
Its denials are extremely rare in a country where requests from investigative authorities for extended detention are almost automatically approved. If a bail request by his lawyer is accepted by the court, Ghosn may be released as early as Thursday.
Prosecutors are expected to appeal the bail request and could take further legal steps to allow them to investigate Ghosn and Kelly longer.
It was not immediately clear how much the bail would be, meaning it was still unclear whether Ghosn’s release was possible.
Brazilian-French-Lebanese business leader Ghosn spearheaded a remarkable turnaround at Japanese carmaker Nissan.
But the recent scandal has raised concerns over the company and the future of its alliance with Renault SA of France, which was enlarged in 2016 to include Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors
Ghosn had shaped the alliance and was pushing for deeper ties including, potentially at the French government’s urging, a full merger despite strong reservations at the Japanese carmaker.
Nissan and Mitsubishi both dismissed Ghosn as chairman while Renault decided to retain him as chairman and chief executive following his arrest in Tokyo.