Ousted and jailed Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has fled to his Lebanon home country after escaping from Japan.
He has spent over a year in custody, latterly in a private house under surveillance, before making his getaway, reportedly hidden in a harp or double-bass instrument case and aboard a private jet. Although his three passports were held in Japan, he was allowed to freely enter Lebanon where he has citizen rights along with rights to Brazilian and French citizenship and the Arab state has said his return is a private matter.
Significantly, Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan so cannot be forced back. There are media reports that he is now surrounded by tight security at an undisclosed address.
Ghosn was arrested when he returned to Japan on a business trip in November 2018 and after investigations into his financial dealings while heading the massive Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi motor group. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing but the Japanese legal system presumes guilt and the car group fired him.
Over 12 months, the 65-year-old has been building up his case against charges of fraud and failing to disclose all earnings but proceedings also revealed failings in the Japanese corporate structure and legal system which have caused immense embarrassment in a country where loss of face is a major issue.
A recent visit by a high ranking Japanese diplomat to Lebanon, where the Far Eastern country has major financial investments, has been linked to Ghosn’s escape and home-coming, suggesting some sort of face-saving deal had been agreed at the highest level.
In a short statement to media, Carlos Ghosn said, “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. I have not fled justice – I have escaped injustice and political persecution. I can now finally communicate freely with the media, and look forward to starting next week.”
His story of the last 12 months will make compelling reading now he is free to talk about it and the machinations behind the scenes at Nissan may have further ramifications for the Japanese company struggling with falling sales and a shakeup by parent Renault.