Photo/IllutrationWearing a blue cap and medical mask, Carlos Ghosn leaves the Tokyo Detention House on March 6 accompanied by security guards. (Naoko Kawamura)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Who was that masked man?

An individual wearing an electrical installation uniform and appearing to have finished his work shift exited the Tokyo Detention House to a sea of 200 or so media representatives on March 6.

The journalists seemed a bit confused, and then a surprised TV reporter asked out loud, “Is that Ghosn?”

The thick eyebrows and sharp look over the man’s medical mask were a giveaway: Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan Motor Co. chairman accused of financial improprieties, had left the building.

Lawyers and others connected with Ghosn went to great lengths to try to reduce the inevitable media attention over his release on bail after more than three months in detention.

In addition to the installation worker uniform, a blue cap, glasses and the mask, a separate van was used to keep the media off balance.

At 4:17 p.m. on March 6, a black van carrying Takashi Takano, a member of Ghosn’s defense team, and others parked in front of the detention house.

Takano had handled the proceedings for Ghosn’s release, including the bank transfer of 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) in bail.

After entering the facility, the group emerged about 12 minutes later and loaded a futon and small suitcase into the black van.

Two minutes later, another group of about 10 individuals left the detention house, including the man in the middle wearing the electrical installation worker uniform. At one point, the man pointed to the black van but then walked by it and entered a smaller silver van manufactured by Suzuki Motor Corp.

The name of a painting company based in Saitama Prefecture was written on the vehicle. Painting equipment had been loaded in the back and a step ladder was strapped to the roof.

The silver van left the premises while the larger black van and those inside remained behind.

The media representatives soon realized that Ghosn was in the silver van. Photographers furiously clicked their shutters as the vehicle started moving.

Motorcycles, cars and even helicopters followed the silver van for about an hour before it stopped in front of a lawyer’s office in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward.

When Ghosn, 64, emerged from the van, he had shed the uniform and mask and was wearing a gray coat.

According to Justice Ministry officials, defense lawyers provided the uniform that Ghosn wore as he left Tokyo Detention House as well as the silver van.

“I have never heard of anyone leaving on bail in disguise,” a high-ranking Justice Ministry official said.

A source with the Saitama painting company said: “I don’t know of any ties to Ghosn. There might have been some connection with one of our clients.”

The blue cap Ghosn wore had the name of a rail car maintenance company also based in Saitama Prefecture.

An official with that company said it had no dealings with Nissan and no connection with the defense team’s deception.