Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) French authorities have issued an international arrest warrant for former Renault and Nissan executive Carlos Ghosn, who fled from embezzlement charges in Japan in 2018 and sought refuge in Lebanon.
Lebanese-born Ghosn holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, and has been living in Beirut since 2018, following a movie-like escape from Japan. After being charged with financial misconduct, Ghosn enlisted the aid of a special forces veteran to smuggle himself to Istanbul in a musical instrument case, from where he fled to Lebanon.
Ghosn insisted the Japanese charges against him were trumped-up, and a result of a conspiracy within the Franco-Japanese Renault-Nissan partnership, in which the Japanese side allegedly resented the French influence over its industrial giant. Citing a 99-percent conviction rate in Japan, Ghosn claimed he would not receive a fair trial in Japan, and has decided to flee from what he perceives to be an unjust process.
On Friday, France issued an international arrest order in his name over a 15 million euro suspect payment from Renault-Nissan to an Omani company, which Ghosn authorised. Parisian prosecutors claim Ghosn was involved in misuse of company assets, money laundering and corruption.
French investigators visited Ghosn twice in Beirut during their investigation, with the former exec ostensibly welcoming cooperation with French authorities, claiming it would help him clear his name.
A member of his PR team told Reuters that Ghosn was surprised by the warrant, as he “always cooperated with French authorities”. Despite what is now two international arrest warrants in his name, Ghosn remains safe in Lebanon, as the country does not extradite its citizens.
In contrast to his claims of innocence in all cases involving financial misconduct, Ghosn’s attempts to evade arrest have left a trail of arrests and convictions in his wake. Japanese courts sentenced two men who helped him flee Tokyo to prison – a US Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor was given a two-year sentence, while his son Peter was sentenced to one year and eight months.
Executive of a small Turkish airline which ferried Ghosn from Istanbul to Beirut was also sentenced to prison by a Turkish court, having been found guilty of migrant smuggling, together with two of the airline’s pilots. Ghosn’s former top aide in Japan, Greg Kelly, was handed a six-month suspended sentence for allegedly helping Ghosn conceal his income from the Renault-Nissan group.
Speaking to AP in May last year, Ghosn acknowledged there has been “a lot of collateral damage” connected to his attempts to evade authorities, but insisted he doesn’t feel responsible for it. Ghosn instead laid blame at presumed organisers of the supposed corporate coup within Renault-Nissan.