TOKYO – An attorney for Carlos Ghosn has apologized for dressing the former Nissan Motor Co. chairman in a workman’s uniform in a bid to sneak him away from jail and dodge the media.
Ghosn walked out of a Tokyo jail on bail Wednesday after donning a blue cap, jumpsuit and reflective vest. His face was covered with a surgical mask, often used by Japanese who have a cold. His getaway vehicle was a small Suzuki van with a ladder on the top.
Lawyer Takashi Takano wrote in a blog post Friday – titled “Concerning Yesterday’s Uproar” – that his aim was to prevent “the whole world” from knowing where Ghosn was staying. Takano had hoped to give Ghosn some privacy to reunite with his family and begin work on his defense.
“It failed,” Takano wrote.
The van carrying Ghosn was tracked by news helicopters as it meandered through Tokyo streets for more than an hour. Ghosn went to Takano’s office in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, then departed in a black van hours later – wearing a suit.
Takano apologized for what he called the “disguise drama,” saying he feared he may have harmed Ghosn’s professional reputation. Ghosn is among the most influential automotive executives in history. He led the turnaround of two struggling auto makers – Nissan and Renault SA – and built an alliance between the car makers that has persisted for two decades, turning them into one of the largest producers of cars in the world.
The morning after Ghosn’s attempted getaway, the costume was a popular topic on Japan’s biggest TV news prograOne helpfully offered tips on how to re-create the outfit on the cheap using Amazon.
Prosecutors have charged Ghosn with violating two Japanese laws, one governing corporate financial disclosures and the other barring corporate executives from abusing their positions for personal gain. He has said he is innocent and called the charges against him meritless.
Ghosn was released on bail of nearly $9 million after his new team of lawyers filed a third bail plea outlining strict conditions for his release. He left his Tokyo jail after 108 days behind bars, much of which was spent undergoing hours of daily interrogation without his lawyers present.
He has since been enjoying some of the smaller joys of freedom, including no longer having to dine alone, according to a Ghosn family representative.
Takano said his decision to try to disguise the location of his client’s residence stemmed from the strict bail conditions, which were partly designed by the lawyer. Under the restrictions, Ghosn must reside in a court-approved residence in Tokyo that is monitored by surveillance cameras and he is not allowed to communicate with people overseas.
Takano wrote that Ghosn and his family managed to reunite in privacy, which the lawyer called a miracle.
And what did Ghosn think of it all? “Ghosn found it really funny,” said Junichiro Hironaka, the 73-year-old celebrity attorney leading Ghosn’s defense team.