Carlos Ghosn, the embattled ex-chairman and CEO of Nissan Motor Corp awaiting trial in Japan, reportedly flew out of the country Monday evening bound for Lebanon, where he holds citizenship. The Wall Street Journal reports people familiar with the matter confirmed he had arrived in Lebanon late Monday.
12/31/19 update: In subsequent reporting, Ghosn actually spoke out from Lebanon, confirming he and his wife Carole are there. He arrived in Beirut Monday on a private jet from Istanbul using a French passport, according to reports. Japanese immigration officials had no record of Ghosn leaving the country.
For his part, he said he escaped a “rigged” justice system in Japan, according to Reuters. “I am now in Lebanon and will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied,” he said in a Tuesday statement.
Right now, the 65-year-old former executive had been under strict orders to stay in Japan. He is still awaiting trial after his initial arrest in November 2018 for financial crimes, totaling four counts. The first two charges relate to allegedly failing to disclose tens of millions in deferred financial compensation during his time at Nissan. The other two are “breach of trust” violations for allegedly funneling company money for his own personal gain.
If convicted on all the counts, Ghosn faces up to 15 years in prison and a 150 million yen ($1.4 million fine). At this point, it can’t be confirmed with absolute certainty the exact circumstances under which he supposedly fled Japanese authorities. However, if more details emerge, we’ll be sure to provide more updates. Ghosn, his attorneys and his wife have all expressed doubt that he would get a fair trial by Japanese courts. He has maintained his innocence throughout the process, saying he has been the victim of a conspiracy to drive him out of his role within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.