A lawyer representing ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn on Friday apologised for “tainting” the tycoon’s reputation by suggesting he disguise himself as a workman to leave detention on bail.
Ghosn sparked confusion and some derision by walking out of a Tokyo jail on Wednesday after more than 100 days in custody, sporting a blue construction worker’s jacket, a light blue cap and a facemask.
Lawyer Takashi Takano said the bizarre get-up was a bid to protect Ghosn’s privacy, and particularly to avoid media tracking him to the residence where he will live while out on bail.
But Takano acknowledged the plan backfired, with the world’s media instead snapping photos and filming video of Ghosn, transformed from his previously suave executive image.
“The disguise was all planned and carried out by me,” Takano wrote in a blog article posted Friday.
“Due to my amateur plan, the fame he has built over a lifetime was tainted.”
“I caused tangible and intangible damage to many people. I feel sorry about that,” he added.
Takano said his only goal had been to prevent the media from locating Ghosn’s residence.
“Not only would he not be able to have his life back but also his health would be damaged,” if the home was located, Takano said.
“The life of his family and his neighbours would be threatened. We definitely needed to avoid such a situation.”
In the event, not only was Ghosn widely filmed and photographed in the bizarre disguise, including as he got into a silver minivan complete with a workman’s ladder, but media in helicopters and on motorbikes tracked the vehicle around Tokyo.
He was initially taken to Takano’s office, but was later able to leave and the exact location of his Tokyo residence remains unclear.
The day after Ghosn’s release, Japanese media devoted news programmes to dissecting Ghosn’s disguise, with some stations even dressing up doubles in similar garb to discuss the outfit.
Ghosn’s release was the latest twist in a saga that has gripped the business world in Japan and beyond since his November 19 arrest.
Ghosn, who faces three charges of financial misconduct, must adhere to strict conditions in addition to the nearly $9 million he paid in bail.
He must stay in a residence in Tokyo designated by the court, with a surveillance camera installed at the door. Footage from the camera must be submitted to the court periodically.
He can only use a computer at his lawyer’s office and will not be able to access the internet.
Takano said Ghosn’s bail will be canceled if any of the rules are violated and “he would have to return to the tough life in custody.”