Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 November 2020

Carlos Ghosn: Japan issues arrest warrant for wife Carole Ghosn

The Japanese carmaker said Mr Ghosn, who escaped to Lebanon, engaged in serious misconduct

Carlos Ghosn earlier this week jumped bail in Japan and fled to Lebanon rather than face trial on financial misconduct charges in a dramatic escape that has confounded and embarrassed authorities. AP
Carlos Ghosn earlier this week jumped bail in Japan and fled to Lebanon rather than face trial on financial misconduct charges in a dramatic escape that has confounded and embarrassed authorities. AP

Japan has issued an arrest warrant for Carole Ghosn, the wife of Carlos Ghosn, who last month jumped bail and fled the country, as Nissan said they will continue to pursue legal action him.

Mr Ghosn, the former boss of Nissan, had been facing trial in Japan on charges of financial misconduct, which he denies, before fleeing the country in late December for Lebanon.

He had been freed on bail after agreeing to strict conditions, with prosecutors arguing he posed a flight risk. They included restrictions on contact with Ms Ghosn, which was reportedly among the reasons he decided to jump bail and flee the country in an elaborately planned escape that has outraged Japanese officials.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Japanese prosecutors said they had obtained the warrant on suspicion Ms Ghosn made false statements during her testimony to the Tokyo district court in April about meetings with an unnamed individual.

It came as Nissan said they will continue to pursue legal action against its former chairman, saying he engaged in serious misconduct while leading the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance.

“The company will continue to take appropriate legal action to hold Ghosn accountable for the harm that his misconduct has caused to Nissan,” the carmaker said without giving details.

Tokyo has told Beirut that Mr Ghosn left the country illegally and seeks co-operation in finding out what happened, Japan’s chief government spokesman said.

Japan and Lebanon do not have an extradition treaty and experts say it will be difficult to bring Mr Ghosn back to stand trial in Tokyo.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said the situation had to be handled carefully.

The country's foreign ministry said Japan's ambassador to Lebanon planned to meet Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Tuesday.

Nissan’s statement was the first comment from the company since Mr Ghosn’s flight last week.

The carmaker and Japanese prosecutors say Mr Ghosn misstated his future compensation and diverted company assets for personal gain, allegations that he denies.

Mr Ghosn is expected to hold a press conference in Beirut on Wednesday.

He has said the charges against him were concocted by Nissan, Japanese authorities and other parties that wanted to block plans for a fuller merger between Nissan and its French alliance partner Renault SA.

Mr Ghosn said last week that he wanted to escape what he described as injustice.

Critics of the Japanese judicial system say his case exemplifies its tendency to move too slowly and detain people for too long.

Nissan said an investigation was ongoing in France and the US Securities and Exchange Commission has found evidence of wrongdoing.

Mr Ghosn has not been charged in France or the US.

Japan’s justice minister Masako Mori said the country would tighten border control precautions to prevent those accused of crimes from fleeing the country in future.

She did not confirm reports that Mr Ghosn fled from Kansai International Airport in Osaka by hiding inside a musical equipment box as he was brought aboard a private jet and flown first to Turkey and then to Lebanon.

Ms Mori said all airports will be required to check all cargo and luggage, including items for private jets.

She repeated her defence of Japan's justice system and denounced Mr Ghosn’s escape as unjustifiable.

She said every country's justice system has its own ways of making arrests and granting bail.

The scandal over Mr Ghosn’s case has tarnished Nissan’s image and created a leadership vacuum at a time when the carmaker’s profits and sales are tumbling.

Mr Ghosn’s successor, Hiroto Saikawa, resigned last year amid financial misconduct allegations related to his income.

“Nissan will continue to do the right thing by co-operating with judicial and regulatory authorities wherever necessary,” Nissan said.

Although Mr Ghosn is unlikely to face trial in Japan, Greg Kelly, another Nissan former executive, is still facing charges of underreporting Mr Ghosn’s future compensation.

Mr Kelly, a US citizen, has denied the allegations and is out on bail.

He has not been charged with the breach of trust allegations Mr Ghosn also faces.

Nissan has also been charged as a corporate entity. The company says it won’t fight the charges and will pay the required fines.

Updated: January 7, 2020 01:21 PM

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