Carlos Ghosn, released on strict bail conditions by the Japanese courts as he awaited trial for alleged vast fraud while boss of Nissan, has escaped the country in mysterious circumstances - and reemerged in Lebanon.
The Lebanese citizen reportedly escaped by private jet, landing first in Turkey and then in his final destination, which holds no extradition treaty with Japan. The exact circumstances of how he got out of the country are still hazy, with some outlets suggesting he had a secret fourth passport as well as his Lebanese, French and Brazilian ones. However, Japanese investigators have found no record of him using a passport to leave the country, suggesting he left the country illegally.
Among the more outrageous suggestions across the globe was the idea that Ghosn had hidden inside some kind of musical instrument case, which was naturally parroted widely on social media but is pretty unlikely, even for the compact Brazilian mogul. It’s thought he hatched his escape plan after learning he would have to wait for a trial on bail until April 2021.
The BBC reports Turkish media as confirming that four pilots, a freight company manager and two airport workers have been arrested there. Ghosn has claimed that ‘he alone’ arranged for his escape, taking him to an Istanbul airport for 05:30 local time on Monday.
Interpol, the international police organisation, has issued a ‘red notice’ to Lebanon requesting Ghosn’s arrest, but Lebanon is not expected to comply. Ghosn himself has claimed that he was a victim of “injustice and political persecution” in Japan, which has a criminal justice system some have termed ‘hostage justice.’
Also citing distress at not being allowed to contact his wife, Nissan’s hero-turned-villain-turned-Houdini is expected to be safe from extradition both in Lebanon and in France, whose government has already stated it would not send him back to Japan.
Nissan has accused Ghosn of diverting company money for his own benefit, while prosecutors have alleged that he sent a large, unauthorised payment to a Nissan distributor in Oman. He is also said to have under-reported his own salary to pay less tax.