BEIRUT — In a shocking development, former Nissan Motor Co. chairman Carlos Ghosn has fled Japan, where he had been released on bail in April after being indicted for a series of financial crimes more than a year ago. He is believed to be at his home in Beirut. Lebanon and Japan do not share an extradition agreement.
Ghosn confirmed his escape in a statement released late Monday night.
“I am now in Lebanon and will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant and basic human rights are denied, in flagrant disregard of Japan’s legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold,” he wrote. “I have not fled justice — I have escaped injustice and political persecution. I can now finally communicate freely with the media, and look forward to starting next week.”
The terms of Ghosn’s bail — which is far less common in Japan than in the U.S. — specifically forbade him from leaving the country and placed him under surveillance. Sources within the Lebanese foreign ministry have told reporters he entered Lebanon using his French passport and Lebanese ID, presumably having traveled by private jet.
Ghosn claimed “plot and treason” were to blame for the charges.
In a January interview, Ghosn, who served as head of the multinational Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, claimed “plot and treason” were to blame for the charges, which include two counts each of failing to report deferred income and misappropriating company funds.
Also indicted was Greg Kelly, a fellow former Nissan executive accused of taking part in the scheme. Both would face lengthy prison sentences and steep fines if convicted. Kelly also has maintained his innocence. He remains in Japan.