Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has confirmed he is in Lebanon saying he refused to be “held hostage” by a “rigged” Japanese justice system, raising questions about how one of the world’s most-recognised executives exited Japan months before his trial.
Ghosn’s abrupt departure marks the latest dramatic twist in a year-old saga that has shaken the global auto industry, jeopardised the alliance of Nissan Motor Co Ltd and its top shareholder Renault SA and cast a harsh light on the fairness of Japan’s judicial system.
“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,” Ghosn, 65, said in a brief statement on Tuesday.
“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.”
Neither Ghosn’s lawyer nor a spokesman for the Tokyo prosecutors office had an immediate comment when contacted by Reuters earlier about Ghosn’s whereabouts. A Nissan spokesman declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Lebanese embassy in Tokyo said: “We did not receive any information.”
It was unclear how Ghosn, who holds French, Brazilian and Lebanese citizenship, would have been able to leave Japan. Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan, according to Japan’s justice ministry, making it unlikely that he could be forced to return to Tokyo to face trial.
A person resembling Ghosn entered Beirut international airport under a different name after flying in on a private jet, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported, citing an unidentified Lebanese security official.