• DCGI gives permission to BharatBiotech for intranasal booster dose trials
  • Supreme Court stays for three weeks Madras HC verdict ordering winding up of SpiceJet
  • Supreme Court cancels suspension of 12 Maharashtra BJP MLAs
  1. You Are At:
  2. English News
  3. World
  4. What's known and not known about Ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn's escape from Japan

What's known and not known about Ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn's escape from Japan

Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who fled to Lebanon this week, and is the subject named on an active Interpol arrest warrant, emailed a statement yeaterday accusing the Japanese justice system of being "rigged," and denying he had "fled justice" -- maintaining he was a victim of a conspiracy and "political persecution."

India TV News Desk Edited by: India TV News Desk
Tokyo Updated on: January 03, 2020 11:36 IST
What's known and not known about Ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn's escape from Japan
Image Source : AP

Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn leaves Tokyo's Detention Center for bail in Tokyo. By jumping bail, Ghosn, who had long insisted on his innocence, has now committed a clear crime and can never return to Japan without going to jail. 

Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn fled Japan this week while awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges and appeared in Lebanon. Lebanese television station MTV, earlier reported that Ghosn fled after a band of musicians entered his home on the pretext of providing entertainment during a dinner party. Ghosn hid himself inside one of the musical boxes before leaving Japan from a local airport. Once a highly-respected businessman, Ghosn's arrest in November 2018 made headlines around the world.

Ghosn, who fled to Lebanon this week, and is the subject named on an active Interpol arrest warrant, emailed a statement yeaterday accusing the Japanese justice system of being "rigged," and denying he had "fled justice" -- maintaining he was a victim of a conspiracy and "political persecution."

A look at the unfolding case of the fallen superstar of the auto industry:


Where is Carlos Ghosn

Ghosn, who is Lebanese and also holds French and Brazilian passports, arrived in Lebanon on Monday (December 30, 2019) using a private plane via Turkey. Lebanese Justice Minister Albert Serhan told The Associated Press that Ghosn entered the country with a legal passport. Ghosn, who has not appeared in public, issued a statement saying he left to avoid a “rigged Japanese justice system.”

He later denied his family members’ role in the escape, stressing he did it alone. He said he will talk to reporters next week. Serhan said Lebanese prosecutors will question Ghosn, but there are no charges pending against him in Lebanon.

How did Carlos Ghosn got out

Little is known about how Ghosn was able to leave Japan. He picked a time where security lapses are more likely — government offices are shut down all week for New Year holidays. But his whereabouts were closely monitored, including by 24-hour security camera coverage, and his lawyers supposedly had all his passports. He was able to use the internet only in his lawyer’s office, and he was forbidden from seeing his wife, Carole Ghosn. They were recently allowed video calls, but only in the presence of his lawyer. His chief lawyer Junichiro Hironaka said he had no knowledge of the escape and was stunned by it.

The dramatic disappearance has set off wild speculation he was carted off inside a musical instrument case.

Carlos Ghosn as fugitive

Interpol issued a wanted notice Thursday (January 2, 2020) for Ghosn. Lebanon, which does not have an extradition treaty with Japan, must now decide how to respond. Expectations are low that Lebanon would hand over Ghosn. Interpol’s Red Notice is a non-binding request for law enforcement agencies worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a fugitive. The notice is not an arrest warrant. Legal experts say Ghosn’s ability to travel will be restricted.

Japan's response on Carlos Ghosn

Japanese prosecutors raided Ghosn’s Tokyo home on Thursday (January 2, 2020). Prosecutors had opposed his release on bail. Turkey made several arrests as part of an investigation into how he passed through the country. Japanese government officials have not said anything in public about Ghosn’s escape but they revoked the 1.5 billion yen ($14 million) bail Ghosn posted on two instances. Trying someone in absentia is rare in Japan. A trial dealing with allegations against Nissan as a company and Greg Kelly, another Nissan executive, will continue. A date has not been set. Japanese authorities rarely engage in flamboyant manhunts across borders. Japan has extradition treaties with the U.S. and South Korea.

The charges on Carlos Ghosn

Ghosn, first arrested in November 2018, has repeatedly denied the charges against him. Part of the allegations centers around Ghosn failing to report in official documents compensation promised to him. Ghosn has said those payments were never decided on and that Nissan had filed additional papers concerning the compensation. Other charges of breach of trust involve Nissan money allegedly diverted to Ghosn for personal gain, including payments in Oman and Saudi Arabia. Ghosn has said those payments were for legitimate services. Prosecutors have released few specifics, saying they will do so at the trial. If convicted on all counts, Ghosn could face the maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Carlos Ghosn as star

Ghosn built a stellar reputation for his managerial acumen in turning around Nissan over the last two decades from near-bankruptcy to one of the biggest global auto brands. Several of his books on management were translated in Japanese, and there’s one that depicts him as a manga comic book character. Especially in his early years, he was cheered as a celebrity, admired for his hard work, and dubbed “7-11” after the convenience-store chain for the hours he kept. He is still a national hero in Lebanon, with close ties to senior politicians. After his arrest, he has become a symbol of protest against Japan’s so-called “hostage justice” system, which human rights advocates have long criticized as unfair and relying too much on confessions. Ghosn was held in detention for 130 days before posting bail.

Other twists

Two Lebanese lawyers have submitted a report to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Beirut against Ghosn, saying he violated Lebanese law by visiting Israel. The two countries are in a state of war. Ghosn visited Israel in 2008 to launch Nissan electric cars, and met the prime minister and the president. Journalists, including those from Japan, are flocking to Ghosn’s rose-colored house in Beirut’s affluent neighborhood of Ashrafieh. A Lebanese lawyer who said he worked for Nissan told reporters the building belonged to Nissan, which Ghosn also confirmed. Nissan officials have pointed to Ghosn’s extravagant lifestyle, including expensive chandeliers and a sarcophagus buried beneath transparent walkways at the Beirut residence.

Nissan's future

Nissan’s brand has been seriously tarnished, and its sales and profits are tumbling. Ghosn was such a key figure for the brand in Japan, where foreign executives are still relatively rare, that it would be a challenge for anyone to fill his shoes. His successor, Hiroto Saikawa, resigned in September after financial misconduct allegations related to a dubious income surfaced against him. Nissan picked Makoto Uchida, who used to head its China business, as its new chief executive. What happens to Nissan’s alliance with Renault SA of France, engineered by Ghosn, is a bigger question. Experts say the alliance is irreversible because so much is shared between the automakers, including model development, manufacturing sites and vehicle parts. Ghosn has said his arrest was prompted by those who opposed a fuller merger between Nissan and Renault. Renault owns 44% of Nissan, but in recent years, until Ghosn’s downfall, Nissan had grown more profitable than Renault. Nissan has been historically closely associated with Japanese pride. Uchida has affirmed the importance of the alliance and promised to restore Nissan’s credibility.

(With inputs from AP)

ALSO READ | Carlos Ghosn scripts the greatest escape of 2019, flees Japan in a musical instrument box

ALSO READ | Interpol issues wanted notice to Lebanon for ex-Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn


Latest World News

Write a comment