A lawyer on Carlos Ghosn’s defence team has apologised for encouraging him to leave detention this week in a workman’s disguise, saying he feared he had damaged the former Nissan chair’s reputation.
Not only did the widely mocked getup – intended to throw reporters off the scent – fool no one, it heightened already intense media interest in Ghosn, who was released on bail on Wednesday.
On Friday, Takashi Takano admitted the “amateurish” disguise had been his idea, and acknowledged the ploy had backfired.
“The disguise was all planned and carried out by me,” Takano wrote in a blogpost. “As a result, my immature plan has tarnished the reputation that he has devoted his whole life to building. I feel sorry about that.”
Ghosn, who faces three charges of financial misconduct, emerged from 108 days in detention flanked by officials and sporting dark blue overalls, a light blue cap and a surgical mask.
The blue-collar theme continued when Ghosn got into a silver van – a Suzuki – with a workman’s ladder strapped to its roof and, pursued by media motorcycles and helicopters, was driven across Tokyo to his lawyer’s office.
The exact location of his residence, where he was later reunited with his family, remains unknown.
The mystery over Ghosn’s attire deepened when commentators pointed out that he could have left the Tokyo detention centre in an ordinary business suit.
In the absence of other new developments in the case – which may not go to court for several months – TV stations dissected his disguise, with one even getting a member of staff in a lookalike outfit to sit in a van resembling the one used by Ghosn.
Takano said his aim had been to prevent the media from locating Ghosn’s residence, where he will spend his time out on bail under severe restrictions, including bans on internet access and contact with anyone involved in his case.
“Not only would [Ghosn] not be able to have his life back, but also his health would be damaged” if his home was located, Takano said. “The life of his family and his neighbours would be threatened. We definitely needed to avoid that situation.”