DUBAI/BEIRUT/TOKYO: Ousted Nissan Motor Co boss, Carlos Ghosn, fled Japan because he “feared for his life and was depressed,” exclusive sources have told Arab News Japan.
Sources confirmed Ghosn was smuggled out of Japan on a non-commercial flight – probably a cargo plane to Lebanon via Turkey.
Japanese immigration officials also confirmed they had no official record of him leaving the country through any of Japan’s official exit points.
And Japanese government officials have said they intend to ask Lebanon to return Ghosn who continues to deny the allegations laid against him.
Ghosn arrived at Rafic Hariri Airport in Beirut, on a private plane, using his French passport and a Lebanese ID, which made him eligible for an immediate visa on arrival, contrary to earlier reports suggesting he used a fake passport.
His name was not flagged in the system as he is not on any Interpol list, and the Lebanese General Security only realized it was him after he had left the private terminal.
Close family members told Arab News Japan he was with them in Lebanon, claiming Ghosn “feared for his life.”
They said he was “depressed after this ordeal” and wanted to return to “normal life.”
They also denied he met with the president of Lebanon as was reported in some media and confirmed neither the Lebanese Foreign Ministry nor the Japanese Embassy in Lebanon were aware of his plan to leave Japan.
Earlier Tuesday Ghosn’s lawyers told reporters they were holding his three passports, adding that he could not have used any of them to escape Japan, adding that his client’s actions were “inexcusable.”
The lawyer’s comments came as Ghosn confirmed he had fled to Lebanon, saying he would not be “held hostage” by a “rigged” justice system.
Ghosn said in a statement on Monday that he had left Japan for Lebanon to escape “political persecution,” adding: “I am now in Lebanon.”
He said 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.”
The system is “in flagrant disregard of Japan’s legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold,” according to the statement.
“I have not fled justice,” he continued. “I have escaped injustice and political persecution.”
“I can now finally communicate freely with the media and look forward to starting next week,” the statement added.
News about Ghosn, who faces house arrest in Japan amid ongoing legal action over alleged corruption during his tenure, broke on Monday at 11 pm [Beirut time].
An aide of Ghosn told Lebanese media that Ghosn was no longer under house arrest in Japan and has arrived in his native country.
The overthrown boss of the Renault-Nissan had been awaiting trial in Japan in April amid house arrest following several months in detention.
No official confirmation could be obtained from the Lebanese Internal Security Forces on Ghosn’s arrival at Beirut International Airport at midnight.
Requesting anonymity, an airport source told Arab News Japan that Ghosn arrived on a private jet that is believed to have flown in from Turkey. “He did arrive, but I cannot say when,” the source said without divulging further details.
The Lebanese foreign ministry said it was not aware of the circumstances surrounding Ghosn's entry into the country. However, the General Security Directorate said the tycoon entered Lebanon legally and than no legal measures will be taken against him.
French junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said on Tuesday she was “very surprised” by news that Carlos Ghosn had left Japan and flown to Lebanon, adding she had heard of it via the media.
Pannier-Runacher also told France Inter radio that, regarding Ghosn, no-one was above the law but Ghosn would be able to get French consular support as a French citizen.
Ghosn, once celebrated for his turnaround of the ailing car companies, has suffered one of the decade’s most dramatic corporate falls from grace. He was arrested in Japan in November 2018 under four charges of financial misconduct, which he denies.
After the news of his arrival in Beirut, social media users tweeted that Ghosn could be named a minister in the new cabinet that is currently being formed by Dr Hassan Diab following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Hariri resigned amid ongoing protests over political corruption and deteriorating economic situation.