Ghosn Flees Japan to Lebanon

Photo: BBC

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.

Four pilots and three others have been detained by Turkish police in Carlos Ghosn’s late-night escape from Japanese detention. According to the Washington Post, Ghosn departed Osaka airport on a private Global Express Bombardier jet just before midnight December 29th and landed in Istanbul just before sunrise the following morning. He quickly changed planes and was airborne once again to Beirut less than an hour after his arrival. Turkish police said neither Ghosn’s entry nor his exit from that country were registered.
Japanese authorities have revoked Ghosn’s $14 million bail; while he was said to have surrendered his three passports from France, Brazil and Lebanon, his attorney acknowledged there was a second French passport that the former Nissan/Renault head had petitioned to keep for everyday trips outside his residence. Foreign visitors are required to carry passports with them at all times.
The mystery of how Carlos Ghosn evaded security details en route to Osaka’s Kansai airport deepens, as do questions of how he boarded these two airplanes in making his escape from Japan and, later Istanbul.
About Anne Proffit 652 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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