Carlos Ghosn, the former chief of Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA, unexpectedly left Japan, where he is supposed to face trial on charges of financial wrongdoing, and traveled to his homeland of Lebanon, according to people familiar with the matter. He arrived in Lebanon on Monday. The former CEO had been released from Japanese jail and permitted to leave his Tokyo home but was mandated to stay in Japan until his trial. According to the Hill, one person familiar with the matter told the newspaper that Ghosn did not think he was going to get a fair trial and was “tired of being an industrial political hostage.”
The automobile executive who grew up in Lebanon will be expected to hold a press conference to explain why he left the country. Ghosn could face up to 15 years in prison after allegedly failing to report more than $80 million of planned future income in Nissan’s financial statements, sending $14.7 million in Nissan money to a Saudi friend and Nissan business partner, and redirecting $5 million designated for an Omani distributor for his own use. However, he has denied the allegations, saying they were put forward by disgruntled Nissan executives. Ghosn was expected to face trial in April in a country where 99 percent of those indicted get convicted. He was arrested in November 2018 and spent four months in jail before being released on bail and told to stay in the country. Prosecutors however did argue that he should stay in prison, saying he was a flight risk.
It is still not clear how Ghosn, who holds both French and Lebanese citizenship was able to leave Japan. Where he has been under strict court-ordered surveillance on his whereabouts. Japanese authorities released him on an $8.9 million bond in March. He spent his childhood in Lebanon and returned from that country when he was arrested by Japanese authorities in November of last year. After his first arrest in November 2018, he spent 108 days in jail. Ghosn was released in March 2019 but was re-arrested a few weeks later in April. He finally got extended bail on April 25. A New York Times report stated he arrived in Lebanon via a private jet from Turkey. It is unclear whether he had jumped bail in Japan or if the terms of his bail have been significantly adjusted from its strict conditions. Lebanon does not extradite its citizens.
Under the conditions, he was not allowed to meet in Japan with his Lebanese wife without being granted special permission, though the Tokyo District Court recently decided to allow him to talk with his wife via videoconference. A house known to belong to Ghosn in a Beirut neighborhood had security guards outside with two lights on Monday night, but no sign otherwise of anyone inside. The guards denied he was inside. Ghosn, one of the auto industry’s biggest stars before his downfall, is credited with leading Nissan from near-bankruptcy to lucrative growth.