Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has evaded Japanese authorities to break the terms of his bail and flee to Lebanon.
Ghosn, who was due to face trial over financial misconduct charges this autumn, had been under house arrest and subject to around-the-clock surveillance since April but managed to travel to his mother’s native country where he was raised and has citizenship.
The Financial Times reported today (December 2) that Ghosn had evaded Japan’s security services before flying to Beirut by private jet and allegedly entering Lebanon on a French passport.
Lebanon had requested Ghosn’s return from Japan a year ago, the newspaper said, adding that he will now be provided legal protection against extradition.
The BBC reported that Lebanese TV channel, MTV, had reported that Mr Ghosn had fled his court-approved residence in Tokyo “with the assistance of a paramilitary group who were disguised amongst a band of musicians”.
MTV claimed that the band had performed at his house before the 65-year-old hid in a large musical instrument case which was then hurried to a local airport.
Ghosn appeared in Lebanon on New Year's Eve, according to the FT and the BBC, where he stated: "I have escaped injustice and political persecution.”
He maintains that he is the victim of a conspiracy among Nissan executives, prosecutors and government officials to prevent him from further integrating the Japanese OEM with its alliance partner, Renault.
Japanese prosecutors and the US Securities and Exchange Commission claim Ghosn and Nissan violated pay-disclosure rules, receiving $140 million (£106m) more compensation than the company reported to shareholders.
The executive also faces breach-of-trust charges related to transactions that transferred personal investment losses to Nissan – allegedly moving money from a dealership in Oman into a company he controls in Lebanon.
Ex-Nissan board member, Greg Kelly, remains in Japan and awaits his trial having been indicted for allegedly assisting Ghosn under-report his compensation. Kelly has denied breaking the law.