Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn is now under the International Criminal Police Organization’s (Interpol) ‘red notice’ list which has been issued for his arrest. Red notices are issued for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or serving a sentence.
Ghosn reportedly fled Japan amid legal troubles due to alleged financial misconduct during his tenure as Japanese carmaker Nissan’s chief executive officer. He had posted $8.9 million bail in April, was then placed under 24-hour surveillance and was forbidden to travel abroad, as part of the bail conditions.
Japan’s justice system
Ghosn confirmed on December 31 that he was in Lebanon, a country that does not have an extradition treaty with Japan. According to a short statement, he declared that he “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, who was also the boss of French car manufacturer Renault, has denied all wrongdoing. He blames what has been described as Japan’s “hostage justice” system as the reason for his desperate departure. “The Japanese criminal justice system is focused on interrogation. The aim is getting a confession,” says a Japanese prominent lawyer, Nobuo Gohara in reaction to Ghosn’s statement.
It has been reported that 89% of criminal convictions in Japan are based partly or wholly on confessions alone.
Ghosn’s escape route
Ghosn – who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenships – used one of his two French passports to flee Japan and he reportedly hid in a musical instrument case to avoid being noticed by authorities. A court in Tokyo had allowed Ghosn to keep a second French passport as he needed one to travel inside Japan, according to a source closely familiar with the matter.
With the help of Lebanese state officials, Ghosn snuck onto a private jet on December 29 which transited in Istanbul, Turkey before finally landing in Lebanon’s capital Beirut in the early hours of December 31. Turkish police have made seven arrests in connection with the case, including four pilots, a cargo company manager and two airport workers.
Alleged financial misconduct
On December 10, prosecutors in Japan charged Ghosn with underreporting his income by half of his real compensation during the five years ending in March 2015. The prosecutors claim that Ghosn had only reported $44 million, while his true compensation was at least $87 million over the period.
Further investigations by Nissan found that Ghosn had accumulated about $82 million over nine years in the form of I owe yous (IOUs).