Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, who escaped from Japan in a musical instrument case in December, now resides in Lebanon. Photo: AFP

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn was granted bail for the second time on Thursday, in the latest surprise twist in a corporate-legal saga that has transfixed Japan, the auto industry and the world.

The bail was granted by Tokyo District Court, and set at 500 million yen (US$4.5 million), according to reports from Japan. Ghosn could leave detention as early as the same day. He had formerly been granted bail in March, but then been re-arrested as new charges of misappropriating money for personal use from company sources in the Middle East were filed by prosecutors.

Ghosn, 65, now faces four separate indictments, which also include breach of trust, understating his income and transferring personal financial losses to Nissan.

He has proclaimed his innocence on all charges, insisting he is the victim of a conspiracy from within the management of Nissan, which, he claims, is resisting closer integration with Renault, Nissan’s major shareholder.

Amid his legal woes, Ghosn, who holds French, Brazilian and Lebanese passports, has resigned from the chairmanship of Renault and been dismissed from his executive position at Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors.

Meanwhile, the legal ins and outs of the case, most notably Ghosn’s long period of pretrial detention, and the remarkably high percentage of successful prosecutions in Japan, have cast a harsh light on the country’s legal system.

There was considerable controversy following his April re-arrest after being granted bail in March. According to The Japan Times, re-arresting a person who has already been granted bail is highly unusual.

Ghosn has hired a high-powered legal team to defend him. His trial on all charges is anticipated later this year, though no date has yet been set.

With additional reporting by wire services.

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