Since Japan's first plea bargaining system was introduced in June 2018, prosecutors have used plea bargains in two cases, the second of which led to the dramatic arrest of Carlos Ghosn, former CEO and chair of Renault-Nissan, on the tarmac of Haneda Airport in November 2018. The one-year anniversary of the new system therefore seems like an appropriate time to take stock of the first cases and examine the implications for the future.
Over the past decade, a number of significant regulatory and compliance issues have affected large multinationals based in Japan. As such, the Consumer Affairs Agency recently created a certification regime for corporate whistleblowing systems, which is designed to incentivise businesses to voluntarily enhance their own whistleblowing systems and thereby gain the trust of various stakeholders, including shareholders, counterparties and consumers.
In 2017, following consultations with representatives of the virtual currency (VC) industry, the Act on Payment and Settlement and the Act on the Prevention of Transfer of Criminal Proceeds were amended to require operators of VC exchange businesses to register with the Japanese Financial Services Agency (JFSA). Notably, the amendments reflect the JFSA's desire to implement a risk-based approach with respect to anti-money laundering and terrorist financing.
A recent Tokyo District Court decision was reported to be the first to hold an underwriter liable to investors that purchased shares in a company based on material misstatements in the financial information contained in the statutory disclosure document for a public offering in Japan. However, the Tokyo High Court overturned the district court decision in this regard and concluded that the lead manager was not liable to investors.
In response to the significant corporate scandals that have come to light in recent years, Japanese authorities and regulators have been working to improve compliance awareness within corporate Japan. The Japan Exchange Regulation (JPX-R) recently published the Principles for Preventing Corporate Scandals, which provide valuable insight into the views of the JPX-R and, by extension, other Japanese regulators.