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- Former chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance Carlos Ghosn has been reported as arriving in Lebanon, the country where he grew up, after flying there on a private plane.
- Ghosn was not supposed to leave Japan prior to his trial on three sets of charges of financial irregularities.
- Ghosn released the statement below via email, as reported by Bloomberg News, claiming his "basic human rights" have been violated by Japanese authorities.
UPDATE 12/31/19, 8:40 a.m.: Various publications are claiming Carlos Ghosn effected an escape from Japan by hiding inside a musical instrument box, which was transferred to the airport and onto a private plane. Gulf News, citing reports on Lebanese TV, said a "paramilitary" group came to Ghosn's house "in the guise of a band for Christmas dinner," and they hid Ghosn inside one of their equipment boxes when they left the home at the end of the evening. We will add details as they become available.
Details are sparse and the companies are not yet providing any official comments, but it appears the former chief of Nissan and Renault, Carlos Ghosn, has managed to leave Japan and has made his way to Lebanon. Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November 2018 (and again three more times since then), and it is unclear if his departure from Japan was due to an agreement with authorities or something more cinematic.
However, Ghosn's statement on the matter, as reported by Bloomberg News and others this evening, appears to be the latter. "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," he was quoted as saying. "I have not fled justice—I have escaped injustice and political persecution."
Ghosn is believed to have landed in the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Sunday on a private flight from Turkey, according to French business newspaper Les Echos. The Wall Street Journal says Ghosn arrived in Beirut Monday and has confirmed with a source that Ghosn has left Tokyo, where he had been under house arrest since April 25, 2019. CNBC says that Ghosn violated his house arrest to leave the country.
In 2018, Japanese authorities arrested Ghosn for allegedly underreporting his income. Nissan has alleged that Ghosn used company assets to purchase luxury apartments in Brazil and Lebanon, as well as funneling money to a Saudi businessman to cover a personal debt. Ghosn was born in Brazil but grew up in Lebanon. He is a Lebanese citizen (and also holds French citizenship), and when he was first arrested, in November 2018, the Lebanese government said it would stand by him. The caretaker Lebanese foreign minister to Japan at the time of Ghosn's arrest issued a statement that read: "Carlos Ghosn is a Lebanese citizen who represents one of the Lebanese successes abroad and the Lebanese foreign ministry will stand by him in his adversity to ensure he gets a fair trial."
After his initial arrest, Ghosn spent over 100 days in jail, with the court calling him a flight risk at that time. Ghosn was released in the spring on a bail of around $9 million and was then put under house arrest. Before his house arrest started in April, Ghosn posted to Twitter that he would "tell the truth about what’s happening." He then claimed he was the victim of backstabbing and has denied any allegations of wrongdoing. One of the conditions of his house arrest was that he had to stay in Japan to stand trial. A source told the Wall Street Journal that Ghosn was "tired of being an industrial political hostage."
For now, Ghosn's Twitter account is silent about his location and situation, but the WSJ cited a source saying the world can expect an announcement from the international man of mystery via press conference in the coming days.