Carlos Ghosn, the former chief of Nissan Motor Co.
and Renault SA
, unexpectedly left Japan, where he faces trial on charges of financial wrongdoing, and traveled to his homeland of Lebanon.
Ghosn’s flight to a country that in 2017 put his image on a postage stamp marked a striking new development in a drama that has seen one of the world’s most prominent businessmen — an automobile executive accustomed to living between private jets and luxury residences — charged with crimes and forced to serve months in a Japanese jail cell. Now he appears to have turned himself into a celebrity fugitive.
“I am now in Lebanon and will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed,” Ghosn said in a statement. “I have not fled justice — I have escaped injustice and political persecution,” he added. He said he looked forward to communicating with the media next week.
While Ghosn had been released from detention and was living in a house in Tokyo, he was required to stay in the country pending his trial, expected next year. It wasn’t clear how he was able to leave Japan; a person familiar with the matter said he arrived in Lebanon via Turkey. Lebanon’s criminal code prohibits extradition of its citizens, making it unlikely Ghosn can be forced to return to Japan if he stays in the country.
Since his arrest just over a year ago, Ghosn has remained defiant, denying the allegations against him as part of a plot by disgruntled Nissan executives and saying Japanese authorities have treated him inhumanely. He gave up leadership of Renault and was stripped of his role at Nissan, and their ties have been strained in his absence.
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