Nobuo Gohara Lawyer and Former Prosecutor speaks during a news conference at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) on May 11, 2022, in Tokyo, Japan. Gohara spoke about the increasing risk of criminal prosecution for foreign corporate executives working for Japanese companies, such as the case of Carlos Ghosn and Greg Kelly of Nissan Motor Corp. and Trevor Hill and Alexandre Avakiants of SMBC Nikko Securities. (Photo by Rodrigo Reyes Marin/AFLO)
Is Japan’s government targeting foreign executives?
Nobuo Gohara, Lawyer, Former Prosecutor
First, it was Carlos Ghosn and Greg Kelly of Nissan Motor Corp. and now it is Trevor Hill and Alexandre Avakiants of SMBC Nikko Securities. What they have in common is all are foreign executives in top Japanese companies who faced or face allegations of violating laws governing corporate and financial behavior.
Lawyer and former prosecutor Nobuo Gohara sees a pattern in these cases. He says they reflect the increasing risk of criminal prosecution for foreign corporate executives working for Japanese companies as the government, the Tokyo District Prosecutors’ Office and the Securities Exchange Surveillance Commission strictly apply Japanese financial and corporate law.
The issue, Gohara says, is that these standards leave too much discretion to the authorities and are often incompatible with practices in the international corporate world. Gohara says the guilty verdict for Nissan’s Kelly on March 3 at the Tokyo District Court on charges of helping Ghosn underreport his income lacks a clear legal foundation. Gohara says that the prosecution of Kelly ignored the literal interpretation of financial and securities laws. These factors, according to Gohara, suggest the prosecution of Kelly and Ghosn may have had other motives. (Ghosn never faced trial in Japan as he escaped to Lebanon.)
Gohara will speak at the FCCJ to outline his concerns about the Kelly and Ghosn case, as well as the charges against Nikko’s Hill and Avakiants for “market manipulation.” He will also give his views on what is behind the government’s shift in the application of domestic legal standards on foreign corporate executives.
(Photos by Rodrigo Reyes Marin). To license images please visit: AFLO