Ousted Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn's chief defence lawyer resigned today, according to a statement from his law office.
Motonari Otsuru, who has thus far represented Ghosn, gave no reason for stepping down, but was not available for comment.
Ghosn has reportedly replaced him with a team that includes hotshot lawyer Junichiro Hironaka.
The resignation comes after months of investigations forced him out of positions at both Nissan and its French alliance partner Renault.
Nobuo Gohara, a former prosecutor, told Reuters hiring Hironaka would mean a more aggressive legal strategy. “Otsuru was miscast. He worked at the heart of the special prosecutors office so he was not someone who was going to go after them aggressively,” Gohara said.
“Hironaka is an experienced defense lawyer who has won a number of cases. He will mount a more thorough and aggressive defense.”
In a statement, Ghosn thanked Otsuru for his team’s “tireless and diligent work”, calling him a “very capable and intelligent man and lawyer”.
“As we begin the trial phase, I have decided to engage Hironaka-sensei as my legal counsel,” Ghosn said. “I look forward to defending myself vigorously, and this represents the beginning of the process of not only establishing my innocence but also shedding light on the circumstances that led to my unjust detention.”
Yesterday Nissan said its executives would meet with their Renault counterparts this week to discuss the future of their alliance amid the scandal surrounding their former boss.
Renault’s newly-appointed chairman, Jean-Dominique Senard, will meet Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa in Yokohama this week in a bid to secure the ties between the two companies.
Last week it emerged lawyers for the two companies have been locked in a bitter war of words since the Ghosn scandal began in November.
Lawyers for the French company have questioned Nissan’s commitment to the alliance, while Nissan has hit back with accusations that Renault has not fully cooperated with the investigation into Ghosn, the Financial Times reported.
But executives from the two firms will now meet in a bid to salvage the alliance, which also counts Mitsubishi as a member. Senard will visit Nissan’s Japanese headquarters on Thursday and Friday, local media reported.
Yesterday Renault said that while Ghosn has stepped down as chairman and chief executive, he remains a director at the French firm.
Last month Ghosn claimed the allegations of financial misconduct against him were the result of "plot and treason" by Nissan executives opposed to deeper integration between Renault and alliance partners Mitsubishi Motors.