‘Tired’ Ghosn recovers, as lawyers ready ‘thorough’ defense

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn leaves his lawyers’ offices after he was released earlier in the day from a detention center after posting bail in Tokyo on March 6, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 07 March 2019
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‘Tired’ Ghosn recovers, as lawyers ready ‘thorough’ defense

  • In keeping with conditions for his bail worth roughly $9 million, Ghosn has promised to live at a residence with surveillance cameras, to stay in Japan, and to use only designated computers with no Internet access
  • The high-profile case has shone a light on the practice often referred to as “hostage justice,” sparking criticism from abroad

TOKYO: Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn’s top lawyer vowed Thursday to mount a “thorough” defense to restore his client’s reputation, as the “tired” businessman spent his first day out of a Tokyo detention center recovering.
“Of course he is tired,” Junichiro Hironaka told reporters camped outside his office.
“He was taken into custody unexpectedly at the airport, put in that place for more than 100 days. Wouldn’t he be tired after all that?“
Hironaka kept tight-lipped on details about Ghosn, who was freed Wednesday afternoon after his shock arrest on November 19 when Japanese prosecutors stormed into his corporate jet.
He was later slapped with multiple charges of financial misconduct.
In keeping with conditions for his bail worth roughly $9 million, Ghosn has promised to live at a residence with surveillance cameras, to stay in Japan, and to use only designated computers with no Internet access.
Ghosn’s bail should help the lawyers prepare better for his trial, Hironaka said.
Japan’s judicial tradition allows authorities to keep suspects in custody for a long time to encourage confessions.
The high-profile case has shone a light on the practice often referred to as “hostage justice,” sparking criticism from abroad.
“I think it’s good that the court granted bail even with various conditions attached, as I’ve been thinking it’s unfair to detain the accused over a long period of time before trial in so-called ‘hostage justice’,” Hironaka said.
“I hope ‘hostage justice’ will be a thing of the past. From now on, I hope we’ll be able to conduct more elaborate, more thorough preparations” for the trial, he said.
Hironaka said he did not know why Ghosn decided to leave the detention center dressed a bit like a construction worker, donning a blue cap and a work jacket with yellow reflective stripes.
“I was surprised when I saw him on TV,” said Hironaka, who said he had not met Ghosn in person since the release.
The outfit can be seen as “humorous” but Ghosn could have left in more traditional garb, Hironaka added.
He said he understood it was a plan concocted by the tycoon and bail lawyers on the ground.
“If you want to be serious, you might say he should act openly if he is claiming his innocence. That would be a normal, serious view,” he said.
The lawyer added that Ghosn’s defense team was considering an opportunity for him to speak with the press in the near future although this was unlikely to happen on Thursday given his exhaustion.
But the event must be designed in such a way that it would not affect the trial and not allow prosecutors to argue that Ghosn was using the media to send hidden messages to his associates to conceal evidence.
“We are criminal-trial lawyers. We only think about how we can win a not-guilty verdict,” he said.


Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. plans up to $1.07bn sukuk sale this year

Updated 23 April 2019
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Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. plans up to $1.07bn sukuk sale this year

  • The plan by SRC, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund, comes as it prepares to purchase more home loan portfolios
  • SRC, formed in 2017, is also keen to tap foreign institutional investors for its debt sale this year

RIYADH: Saudi Real Estate Refinance Co. (SRC), modelled on US mortgage finance firm Fannie Mae, aims to issue up to 4 billion riyals ($1.07 billion) of long-term sukuk this year, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

The plan by SRC, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund, comes as it prepares to purchase more home loan portfolios from mortgage financing companies and banks to boost the Kingdom’s secondary mortgage market.

SRC, formed in 2017, is also keen to tap foreign institutional investors for its debt sale this year, Fabrice Susini told Reuters in an interview.

“Our strategy is clearly to tap the market twice this year,” he said. “We are really looking at probably issuing something between ... 2 and 4 billion riyal that we may be issuing in two tranches.

He said SRC was looking at sukuk in the 10 to 15-year range, to help minimize refinancing risks. “Generally speaking we are trying to issue as long as possible,” Susini said.

He said the company was assessing whether it could also issue bonds in currencies other than the local riyal.

In March, SRC completed a 750 million riyal sukuk issue with multiple tenors, under a program that allows it to issue up to 11 billion riyals of local currency denominated Islamic bonds.

“The rule of the game for us is, like many projects across the Kingdom, attract liquidity from foreign investors,” Susini said.

He said SRC had spent 1.2 billion riyals from its balance sheet buying mortgages from local mortgage financing companies and provided liquidity to these firms.

It has also signed initial accords with several commercial banks to acquire housing mortgage portfolios.

Saudi Arabia’s housing ministry is targeting the mortgage market to reach a total value of 502 billion riyals by 2020 from around 300 billion riyals now.

The government wants to increase activity in the real estate market as it moves to revitalize the economy and is taking steps to reform the sector as part of its 2030 reform plan.

It has been working with developers and local banks to counter a shortage of affordable housing — one of the country’s biggest social and economic problems. Saudi Arabia wants 60 percent of its nationals to own homes by 2020, up from 47 percent in 2016.

The size of real estate financing relative to its gross domestic product is 5 percent in Saudi Arabia compared to 69 percent in the United States, 74 percent in the United Kingdom and 43 pct in Canada, the housing ministry has said.

“The goal of SRC in this market was to make sure that we will be able to refinance at least around 10 percent of the market in 2020, and 20 percent of the market by 2028,” Susini told Reuters.