TOKYO — Prosecutors raided the offices of a former lawyer for Carlos Ghosn, likely searching for documents that could be related to the indicted former auto titan’s escape to Lebanon from Japan, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, has denied any involvement in helping Ghosn flee and a person who answered the phone at his Tokyo office on Wednesday declined to comment on the report, where NHK cited unidentified people. Tokyo prosecutors declined to comment.
Hironaka led the legal team representing the former CEO of Nissan Motor Co. and notified the Tokyo District Court this month that he is no longer an attorney for Ghosn. Nicknamed “The Razor,” Hironaka is one of the country’s best-known lawyers.
Ghosn, arrested in November 2018, had been free on bail as he awaited a trial that was scheduled to start this year on charges of financial misdeeds, but made a dramatic escape last month to Lebanon, where he holds citizenship. Ghosn has maintained his innocence, saying the allegations were part of a conspiracy to prevent further integration between Nissan and Renault, its biggest shareholder and partner in a global automaking alliance.
Ghosn has also said in an interview with the Asahi newspaper that his lawyers in Japan knew nothing about his escape plans.
Since Ghosn’s escape, his legal team has come under scrutiny and criticism for the events leading to his departure. Hironaka, speaking just a few hours after Ghosn announced he was in Lebanon on Dec. 31, said his office held all of Ghosn’s passports. He later confirmed that one was returned to Ghosn’s person last year in a locked case to which the legal team held the key.
Prosecutors were also seeking to seize a computer at the lawyer’s office they believe Ghosn used when he was released on bail but Hironaka has not turned it over, citing rights granted by law to protect a client’s confidentiality, NHK said.