KEY POINTS

  • Carlos Ghosn, the former chief of Nissan Motor fled to Lebanon
  • Ghosn fears an unfair trial in Japan
  • Ghosn was born in Brazil but grew up in Lebanon

Carlos Ghosn, former chief of Nissan Motor and Renault has fled to Lebanon from Japan.

Ghosn arrived in Lebanon on Monday. It is not known how Ghosn evaded Japanese authorities when he was under stricter bail terms after his release from jail in late April this year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Ghosn had to be available for legal proceedings pending his trial. He faces 15 years in prison on three sets of charges. 

Ghosn was first arrested in November 2018 but was released on bail and stayed in Tokyo. The charges against him ranged from financial wrongdoing to under-reporting of income. 

The former automobile executive fled Japan because he feared an unfair trial, WSJ said quoting a source familiar with the matter. He is “tired of being an industrial political hostage,” the WSJ source added.

"Carlos Ghosn is not looking to flee his responsibilities, but he's fleeing the injustice of the Japanese system," an AFP source closely involved with the case also revealed.

The former Chief Executive has denied the charges against him. He asserts they were a plot hatched by some disgruntled employees in Nissan.

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. 

Press conference likely

Ghosn was born in Brazil but grew up in Lebanon and has many friends and family associates in the country. The former chief of Nissan is expected to hold a press conference to explain his departure from Japan.

Ghosn holds both French and Lebanese citizenship.

A report by the New York Times said he arrived in Lebanon via a private jet from Turkey

Fears unfair trial in Japan

Ghosn’s trial was expected to begin by April 2020. In Japan, more than 99 percent of those indicted for a crime will be convicted, according to official statistics. 

The charges against the former auto executive include causing loss to Nissan by not reporting more than $80 million in planned income on the company’s financial statements.  

Ghosn is also charged with diverting $14.7 million worth Nissan funds to a Saudi friend and Nissan business partner. He is also accused of diverting $5 million of money Nissan sent to an Omani distributor for his use. Another charge notes Ghosn under-reported his salary. 

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn denies all the charges Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn denies all the charges Photo: AFP / Kazuhiro NOGI