Carlos Ghosn, fleeing to Lebanon, says he is ready to speak “freely”

Thunderbolt in the Carlos Ghosn affair: the ex-CEO of Renault-Nissan, who was preparing his parole trial in Japan, confirmed on Tuesday that he is in Lebanon from where he promises to speak “freely” to media, causing consternation in Tokyo.
“I am now in Lebanon. I am no longer hostage to a biased Japanese judicial system where the presumption of guilt prevails, “wrote Mr. Ghosn, holder of Lebanese, French and Brazilian nationalities, in a statement sent by his spokespersons.

The circumstances of his departure from Japan, where he is accused of financial embezzlement, remain unclear.

For the moment, the Japanese government has not reacted on this last day of the year when exceptionally everything is idling in the archipelago.

In Beirut, Lebanese diplomacy said that Ghosn had entered the country “legally” on Monday at dawn. The General Security indicated that nothing imposed “the adoption of procedures against him” nor “exposed him to legal proceedings”.

Paris said it had not been informed of his departure from Japan and said it had “no knowledge of the circumstances of this departure”, according to a press release from Foreign Affairs.

“I did not run away from justice, I freed myself from injustice and political persecution. Finally, I can communicate freely with the media, which I will do next week, ”said the 65-year-old businessman in his statement.

A source in his entourage told AFP that he was with “his wife”, “free”. She also denied reports from a Lebanese TV that he fled hiding in a musical instrument case.

Bail “withdrawal”

Two Lebanese security force cars were in the morning near the house in the Ashrafiyeh neighborhood where Ghosn usually lives when he visits Lebanon, according to an AFP photographer.

According to a source in the Lebanese presidency, the deposed boss of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance entered the country from Turkey, with a French passport and his Lebanese identity card.

This statement raises questions for his Japanese lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, having affirmed that the defense team – guarantor of the respect of the rules imposed by justice towards him – is still in possession of his three passports.

The lawyer also said he was “stunned” by the news of the leak, which he learned “through television”. “It is inexcusable, since it is a violation of the conditions of his release on bail.”

In the evening, the Japanese media claimed that the Tokyo court had decided to “take away” this bail, which appears to be mere form, but also assumes that Mr. Ghosn will not recover the full bond of 1.5 billion yen (more than 12 million euros) paid in two stages to get out of prison last spring.

Fallen car mogul has been under house arrest in Tokyo so far, and there has been nothing in his demeanor over the past few days to suggest that he will leave Japan, people who have recently worked with him told AFP .

After his arrest in Tokyo on November 19, 2018, his lawyers and his family strongly denounced the way in which the Japanese justice system conducted the proceedings in this case.

He had been released on bail at the end of April, but under strict conditions: he was notably forbidden to see or contact his wife Carole.

His house arrest in Tokyo also left him the freedom to travel within Japan, but the period of absence from his home was regulated.

The man who was hailed as “the savior of Nissan” after joining the Japanese group in 1999 spent a total of 130 days in prison between November 2018 and April 2019.

“Conspiracy”

Mr. Ghosn is the subject of four indictments in Japan: two for deferred income not declared to the stock exchange authorities by Nissan (who is also being sued on this aspect), and two others for aggravated breach of trust.

The leader was ejected from his seats as president of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors (3rd member of the alliance) before resigning from the presidency of Renault.

Since the beginning of the case, Carlos Ghosn denounces a “plot” on the part of Nissan to prevent a project of further integration with Renault.

At a preliminary hearing in October, his defense sought to quash the lawsuits against him in Japan, accusing prosecutors of colluding with his former Japanese employer to bring him down.

The charges have been “politically motivated from the start,” they said.

Even if Japanese prosecutors are sure to struggle, the charges against Mr. Ghosn will be difficult to lay abroad, Japanese lawyer Nobuo Gohara told AFP.

In addition, Mr. Ghosn has little risk of being sent back to Tokyo, in the absence of an extradition treaty between Japan and Lebanon, a country also shaken by an unprecedented protest movement where the political class is accused. of corruption and which led to a serious political crisis.

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