Carlos Ghosn: Turkey ‘arrests seven’ amid probe of Nissan ex-boss’s escape

January 2, 2020 by No Comments


Carlos Ghosn is escorted as he walks out of the Tokyo Detention House following his release on bail in Tokyo in April 2019Image copyright

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Ghosn was released on bail last April and reportedly spent months planning his escape

Turkey has launched an inquiry into how ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn travelled via Istanbul as he fled trial in Japan, with media reporting seven arrests.

The private jet on which Mr Ghosn escaped reportedly landed in Istanbul before flying on to Lebanon.

Details of his escape remain unclear, although reports say he may have had a spare French passport, in addition to three others he had surrendered.

France says it will not extradite him should he travel there.

The businessman holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship. He is currently believed to be in Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

He had posted 1bn yen (£6.8m; $8.9m) in bail in Japan last April, ahead of his trial on financial misconduct charges.

But he appeared in Lebanon on New Year’s Eve, saying: “I have escaped injustice and political persecution.”

What’s the latest on the investigations?

There are few details about the Turkish arrests, other than that four of the seven detained are believed to be pilots. A cargo company manager and two airport workers were also reportedly arrested.

According to Turkish media, Mr Ghosn’s private jet landed at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport at 05:30 (02:30 GMT) on Monday, having flown from Japan’s Kansai airport in Osaka.

The Hurriyet news website quoted interior ministry officials as saying that Turkish border police had not been told Mr Ghosn was on the plane and he had not been registered as entering or leaving the country.

However, there has been no official comment on the case.

French Finance Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said Mr Ghosn “should not have absconded from the Japanese justice system”, but added: “France never extradites its nationals.”

Mr Ghosn, who was also boss of French car-maker Renault, has been under investigation in France but no charges have been laid.

Do we know any more about the escape?

French and Japanese media are pointing to the possible fourth passport, which Mr Ghosn may have used to register a legal entry into Lebanon.

The other three documents – Brazilian, French and Lebanese – had been surrendered to his legal team in Japan, who maintain they were still in possession of them when he left.

Media reports say he may have legally been in possession of the fourth passport to show his identity on some internal trips within Japan. But it would have been in a locked box or case, and his lawyers would have had the code.

There is no record of him using a passport to leave Japan, so investigators there believe he used illegal means.

Reuters on Thursday quoted sources close to Mr Ghosn as saying he decided to flee after finding out his trial had been delayed until April 2021.

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Media captionMr Ghosn’s wife Carole told the BBC in June that Japanese officials were trying to humiliate her husband

They said he was also “distressed” at being prevented from communicating with his wife, Carole, who is in Lebanon.

There are reports Mr Ghosn made his escape by hiding in a large musical instrument case, although his wife described the reports as “fiction”.

What charges does Carlos Ghosn face?

Once considered a hero in Japan for turning around Nissan, Mr Ghosn spent 108 days in custody after his arrest in Tokyo in November 2018.

Nissan sacked him three days after his arrest.

Prosecutors allege that he made a multi-million-dollar payment to a Nissan distributor in Oman. Nissan, meanwhile, has filed its own criminal complaint against Mr Ghosn, accusing him of diverting money from the company for his own personal enrichment.

He is also accused of underreporting his own salary. Mr Ghosn denies all the charges.