The saga of Carlos Ghosn, once the head of a Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi alliance, has taken a wild turn.
Despite posting bail of $14 million, allowing surveillance at his Japanese domicile as he awaited trial on, essentially racketeering charges, despite having zero access to internet, zero contact with his wife and family, having turned in his three passports (French, Lebanese, Brazilian), Ghosn has left Japan for Lebanon, where authorities say he entered the country legally carrying his French passport and Lebanese ID card.
The Brazilian-born Ghosn, a man of Lebanese descent, has decried his arrest and charges that he misspent millions of dollars for personal gain. The charges of financial misconduct and aggravated breach of trust preceded Ghosn’s arrest in November of 2018. Accused of underreporting his income and enriching himself through payments to Middle Eastern dealerships, Ghosn was initially placed under 32-day detention, which was extended to 108 days as Japanese prosecutors continued their discovery process.
Ghosn, 65, was initially released last March on $9 million bail, then re-arrested a month later after announcing plans to hold a news conference. He was released a second time after adding another $5 million to his bail amount and many restrictive conditions were imposed, including the requirement that he not speak with his wife.
In Japan, conviction rates are exceptionally high. Ghosn faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and was likely to face conviction for his alleged crimes once a trial had taken place. Although one of his Japanese attorneys claimed to have possession of his three passports, they had no further comments. In a country which is proud of its security systems, this is quite an embarrassment.
Under terms of his bail, Ghosn needed court permission for any trip whose duration extended more than two nights, could not use email and had computer access only at his lawyer’s office. That computer, according to terms of his bail, could not be connected to internet. Attorney Junichiro Hironaka said he’d met with Ghosn on Christmas but had no hint of his intent to flee the country. “It was like a bolt from the blue. We are surprised and puzzled,” he told the Washington Post.
Ghosn apparently traveled from Japan by private plane to Lebanon as Japanese immigration authorities had no record of him leaving the country. “I am now in Lebanon and will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant and basic human rights are denied, in flagrant disregard of Japan’s legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold,” Ghosn’s statement upon arrival in Lebanon attested.