Ghosn’s Japan lawyer quits after client’s flight to Lebanon

Ghosn's Japan lawyer quits after client's flight to Lebanon
Junichiro Hironaka, center, lawyer for Nissan's former chairman Carlos Ghosn, speaks to the media in Tokyo following a meeting with colleagues Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. Ghosn, who was awaiting trial in Japan on financial misconduct charges, was last seen on surveillance video leaving his Tokyo home alone on Dec. 29, presumably to board his getaway plane. (Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — One of the Japanese lawyers for former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has stepped down from that job after Ghosn fled the country.

Junichiro Hironaka had been representing Ghosn in his defense against various financial misconduct allegations. His move, announced Thursday, was widely expected after Ghosn fled to Lebanon late last month.

In a news conference last week in Beirut, Ghosn insisted again that he was innocent of the charges of underreporting his future compensation and of breach of trust in diverting Nissan Motor Co. money for his personal gain.

He said he fled because he felt he could not expect a fair trial in Japan.

Ghosn’s flight while he was out on bail awaiting trial, means his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.

Ghosn has accused Nissan officials and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.

Japanese prosecutors have said repeatedly that they are confident they have a case, and Ghosn’s flight underlines how he sought to skirt the law.

Nissan has also denounced Ghosn. The automaker has denied recent reports about troubles in the Renault alliance, and has stressed the alliance remains strong.

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Yuri Kageyama on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama