Renault board blocks payouts to Carlos Ghosn worth 10 million euros

Carlos Ghosn is being held in Japan on charges he under-reported millions of dollars in pay as head of Nissan

Ghosn was arrested last November over allegations of financial misconduct, and was subsequently removed from his positions as chairman and representative director at Nissan.

Speaking outside his office, Hironaka, 73, confirmed that he had been asked to join the legal team after consulting with the tycoon and his family.

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

Upon making his first appearance since his arrest in January, Ghosn has denied any wrongdoing, though results which emerged from a Nissan-Mitsubishi joint investigation found that the former joint chairman received 7.82 million euros in improper payments. "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".

Hironaka is a graduate of the University of Tokyo.

Hiring Hironaka would mean a more aggressive legal strategy, said Nobuo Gohara, a former prosecutor. "The chances of an acquittal are considerably higher". A second member of Ghosn's defense team, Masato Oshikubo, had quit, it said.

In a statement, Ghosn thanked Otsuru for his team's "tireless and diligent work", calling him a "very capable and intelligent man and lawyer".

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"As we begin the trial phase, I have made a decision to engage Hironaka-sensei as my legal counsel", Ghosn said, using a honorific suffix.

Ghosn was the linchpin of the three-way alliance, which also included Mitsubishi Motors, earning industry plaudits for driving together a sometimes fractious threesome with headquarters 10,000 kilometres apart.

Ghosn has been accused of filing false statements to regulators regarding income from Nissan deferred until retirement - a total of about $80 million.

The former Nissan executive has been in detention since Nov 19 and faces three charges including under-reporting his compensation and attempting to shift losses to his employer's books.

Otsuru said he was meeting Ghosn regularly for several hours at a time, describing his then-client as focused.

He also pointedly declined to criticise Ghosn's detention conditions, despite some global concern about the repeated extension of the auto executive's pre-trial custody.

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