San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon speaks to the media at the Criminal Courts Building in San Francisco, California, U.S., April 29, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
(Reuters) – With Nissan Motor Co [NSANY.UL] CEO Carlos Ghosn expected to testify at the trial of the automaker’s ex-chief executive soon, San Francisco’s lawyer will have his work cut out for him.
The executive is accused of orchestrating a $92 million kickback scheme and falsifying documents while working as part of a sponsorship deal with Nissan. Gascon will still need more evidence at the San Francisco Superior Court trial to prove Ghosn committed a crime, said Karen O‘Boyle, a lawyer for people in Ghosn’s Ford Motor Co executive succession team.
“Once he appears, he’ll need a couple of jurors and the jury’s going to become more reliant on that testimony,” O‘Boyle said on the first day of the second round of pretrial motions scheduled to start next week.
Nissan is expected to confirm Ghosn’s presence at trial on Sept. 29, two days after the high-profile hearing in which Ghosn is accused of demanding multimillion-dollar payments from Ford and changing Nissan’s corporate culture toward helping a client.
Gascon has not disclosed what evidence he plans to ask the Nissan chairman at a later date. Legal experts said that would depend on whether Nissan gave the D.A. as much information as possible.
The case against Ghosn hinges on whether he conspired to overcharge Nissan’s expenses, and whether his wife, Ghosn’s primary driver of the Nissan Azera pickup, created a car exchange program with the company that Nissan improperly recorded as sales to Nissan.
Nissan’s attempts to track executive travel by the company’s chief information officer and researcher has raised the specter of deception on key levels, jurors have said at several previous hearings.