From jumping bail in Japan and fleeing to Lebanon to be met with an arrest notice from Interpol, Carlos Ghosn has had a busy three days as a fugitive. Here’s what we know about the former Renault-Nissan boss’s escape.
‘Left home alone’
The fugitive former Nissan boss was caught on a security camera leaving his Tokyo home by himself on the day he is thought to have fled to avoid a Japanese trial, local media reported Friday.
Ghosn was not seen returning home after leaving around noon on December 29, public broadcaster NHK said, citing people involved in the investigation. He is thought to have taken a private jet from Kansai Airport in western Japan on that day, heading for Istanbul. It is believed Ghosn headed from there to Beirut.
The news comes a day after prosecutors raided the residence as part of an initial probe into his flight. NHK said police were analyzing other surveillance footage, believing there is a possibility he joined someone to head for the airport.
The camera placed near the entrance of his Tokyo residence showed no suspicious person around the time that Ghosn left, according to NHK and the business daily Nikkei.
That seems not quite to jib with an earlier report by Japan’s Kyodo news agency saying Ghosn was smuggled out with the help of two private security operatives who pretended to be part of a group of musicians for a Christmas party at his residence.
Quoting a Lebanese consultant in Tokyo, Kyodo said Ghosn hid in an instrument case before boarding a private jet — a scenario a member of Ghosn’s entourage has previously denied.
Ghosn, who faced multiple charges of financial misconduct that he denies, won bail in April but with strict conditions– including a ban on overseas travel and living under surveillance.
But the executive, who has French, Brazilian and Lebanese nationalities, managed to slip out of Japan on Sunday despite having handed over his three passports to his lawyers.
Ghosn said on Thursday through the Paris-based agency handling his public relations that he organized his dramatic escape from bail in Japan alone and that his family had nothing to do with his escape.
Interpol, the international police cooperation body, has issued a “red notice” for Ghosn’s arrest in the wake of him fleeing Japan, while Turkey announced it was holding seven individuals in connection with his escape.
Ghosn was able to enter Lebanon on a French passport, according to airport documents seen by AFP.
A court in Tokyo had allowed Ghosn to keep a second French passport as he needed one to travel inside Japan, a source close to the matter has told AFP.
According to this source, the court in Tokyo had allowed Ghosn to keep a second French passport so long as it was kept “in a locked case” with the key held by his lawyers.
Turkey’s interior ministry has opened an investigation into Ghosn’s apparent transfer between private jets at an Istanbul airport on Monday.
Officials questioned seven people, including four pilots, as part of the probe, news agency DHA reported Thursday.
The investigation is focused on two flights.
The first, a Bombardier labelled TC-TSR, flew from Osaka in Japan, landed in Istanbul at 5:15 am and parked in a hangar.
The second was a private jet to Beirut, a Bombardier Challenger 300 TC-RZA, which left 45 minutes later, according to DHA.
Ghosn said in a statement on Thursday that he acted alone without his family’s help.
There is no emigration data showing Ghosn’s departure from Japan but he entered Lebanon on a French passport, according to airport documents seen by AFP.
Lebanon said the former car mogul – who holds Lebanese, French and Brazilian nationalities – had entered the country “legally” at dawn on Monday.
His three passports were held by his Japanese lawyers, to limit the risk of flight.
Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that the court in Tokyo had nonetheless allowed Ghosn to keep a second French passport so long as it was kept “in a locked case” with the key held by his lawyers.
Interpol, the international police cooperation body, has issued a “red notice” for Ghosn’s arrest in the wake of him fleeing Japan.
However, a Lebanese judicial source told AFP that Lebanon and Japan do not have an extradition agreement under which Ghosn could be sent back to Tokyo.
Ghosn stands accused in Japan of deferring part of his salary until after his retirement and concealing this from shareholders, as well as syphoning off millions in Nissan cash for his own purposes.
His home in France was searched in June as part of a probe into his sumptuous marriage celebrations at the Palace of Versailles in 2016.
And three lawyers in Lebanon submitted a report to the public prosecutor Thursday demanding that the businessman be prosecuted for a trip he made to Israel in 2008.
Details of just how he escaped could be clarified on Monday when the former auto executive is to speak to the press in Beirut.