Ex-Nissan boss Ghosn's chief defense lawyer resigns; no reason given

Motonari Otsuru, chief lawyer of the ousted Nissan Motor Co Ltd chairman Carlos Ghosn, addresses a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) – Ex-Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s chief defense lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, has resigned, his law office said Wednesday, a stunning twist to the nearly three-month case over alleged financial misconduct by the one-time savior of Nissan.

Japan’s Sankei newspaper said Ghosn had hired hotshot lawyer Junichiro Hironaka as Otsuru’s replacement.

No reason was given for the resignation in a statement distributed by Otsuru’s law firm. Staff at his office confirmed his resignation but would not give a reason.

A second member of Ghosn’s defense team, Masato Oshikubo, from Otsuru’s law office, also quit, the statement said. Staff at the office of Go Kondo, Ghosn’s third defense lawyer, were unavailable for comment.

Hironaka was not immediately available for comment.

Ghosn has been held in detention since his Nov. 19 arrest and indicted on three charges for under-reporting his salary and breach of trust.

Ghosn denies the charges and told the Nikkei newspaper that Nissan executives opposed to his plans for closer ties with automaking partner Renault SA plotted to remove him.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Tim Kelly; Writing by Malcolm Foster; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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