Tokyo enclave where Ghosn hatched daring escape plan

Tokyo enclave where Ghosn hatched daring escape plan
Residents said Carlos Ghosn kept a low profile in the Tokyo suburb where he spent seven months under house arrest. (AFP)
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Updated 01 January 2020

Tokyo enclave where Ghosn hatched daring escape plan

Tokyo enclave where Ghosn hatched daring escape plan
  • Mystery surrounds former Nissan chief’s flight to freedom while under 24/7 surveillance

TOKYO: The imposing home where Carlos Ghosn lived for the last seven months and probably launched a daring escape to avoid Japanese prosecutors is nestled in a leafy enclave of Tokyo where most people pay little attention to Westerners or luxury cars.

Yet neighbors say it was impossible not to notice one of the world’s most famous executives, or the black car that seemed to idle nearby whenever he was around — a stark reminder of the surveillance on the ousted Nissan chairman while out on bail for financial misconduct charges.

Ghosn on Tuesday said that he had fled to Lebanon to escape a “rigged” justice system in Japan, an astonishing revelation that raises questions about how one of the world’s most-recognized businessmen slipped past authorities, especially after he had surrendered his passports under the terms of his bail.

Hana Takeda, who lives in an apartment close to the house where Ghosn has lived since May, said that she would sometimes see him out walking with one of his three daughters.

“He wasn’t very secretive. I would see him hanging around with his daughter,” Takeda, 28, said.

The large, multi-level house is not far from the central Roppongi district in an area popular with diplomats and Western executives.

There is a police presence because of the proximity of at least one embassy and houses for diplomats. Many homes had western luxury cars parked outside, including BMWs, Land Rovers and Bentleys. Three wireless security cameras peered out from the balcony above the brick porch. Under the terms of his bail, Ghosn had to have cameras installed at the house’s entrance.

No one came to the door when a Reuters reporter rang the doorbell. A double garage was shut and net curtains were drawn across the windows. Upper floor windows were covered by blinds.

A policeman on a bicycle made regular rounds through the small neighborhood.

Another neighbor, 62-year-old American Whitney Rich, said that he had sometimes noticed a black car near the house.

Ghosn was initially arrested in Tokyo in November 2018 and faces four charges, which he denies. They include hiding income and enriching himself through payments to Middle East dealerships.

It seems unlikely he will now stand trial in Tokyo as Japan has no extradition treaty with Lebanon.

It was unclear how Ghosn, who holds French, Brazilian and Lebanese citizenship, was able to orchestrate his departure from Japan. He entered Lebanon legally on a French passport, one source has told Reuters.

In one audacious account from Lebanese TV news channel MTV, which Reuters has not been able to verify, a group of musicians arrived at Ghosn’s Tokyo house, performed and then packed up their instruments with him inside one of the larger cases. He was then whisked to the airport and out of the country with the help of privately hired security.

What is clear is that Ghosn was tightly monitored — a fact that has made his escape all the more spectacular. Authorities had monitored and restricted his movement and communications to prevent him from fleeing or tampering with evidence, they said.

There always seemed to be a car at the end of the street near Ghosn’s house, said one Western expat who had lived in the area for nine months.

“He kept a low profile. There was a car parked constantly nearby,” the expat said, declining to be identified.

“He was under constant survelliance,” the expat added.


SAMA, Visa partner to expand smartphone payment network

SAMA, Visa partner to expand smartphone payment network
The e-commerce payment sector is surging in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
Updated 59 sec ago

SAMA, Visa partner to expand smartphone payment network

SAMA, Visa partner to expand smartphone payment network
  • “Simultaneously, this step enhances the Kingdom’s financial technology capabilities and is which in turn would underpin the transition to a digital economy”

Saudi Payments, a unit owned by the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA), has partnered with global payments giant Visa to launch a system to allow users in the Kingdom to make digital payments using their smartphones.
The new Tap to Phone function will operate through Mada, Saudi Arabia’s national payments network, to allow retailers and merchants, especially small businesses, to accept contactless payments via their smartphone devices without having to invest in separate physical hardware.
“We are pleased to be partnering with Visa to bring this solution to market at a relevant time when Saudi consumers increasingly expect and desire to use digital payments wherever they shop, and when many businesses need to go digital to respond to changing consumer behavior,” said Fahad Al-Akeel, managing director of Saudi Payments.
“Simultaneously, this step enhances the Kingdom’s financial technology capabilities and is which in turn would underpin the transition to a digital economy.”
 foster investments in innovative payment solutions to support smaller businesses and improve consumers’ access to quality financial services all around the Kingdom.”
The e-commerce payment sector is surging in Saudi Arabia. Statistics from SAMA show that the number of transactions in the first quarter of 2021 rose 95 percent year-on-year, while the total number of point-of-sale terminals in the Kingdom rose 68 percent in the same period.


Iraq is in talks with Saudi and UAE firms to deliver clean energy

Iraq is in talks with Saudi and UAE firms to deliver clean energy
Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar
Updated 8 min 53 sec ago

Iraq is in talks with Saudi and UAE firms to deliver clean energy

Iraq is in talks with Saudi and UAE firms to deliver clean energy
  • Projects to generate electricity from solar energy in Karbala and Alexandria with a capacity of 525 megawatts were approved with a Norwegian company, according to Abdul Jabbar

RIYADH: Iraq is in talks with Masdar to implement solar energy projects targeting an electricity capacity of up to 2 gigawatts, Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar told Asharq Business.
There are also discussions with Saudi ACWA Power, to implement renewable energy projects, he added.
“It is expected to sign contracts for renewable energy until 2025 targeting the production of between 10 and 12 gigawatts, representing about 25 percent of Iraq’s electricity needs, which exceed 40 gigawatts,” he said.
“We are working on a full entry into this production of energy gradually until 2030,” he added.

FASTFACT

There are discussions with Saudi ACWA Power, to implement renewable energy projects, says Iraq’s oil minister.

An agreement was signed with Total to implement renewable energy projects in the southern and central regions aimed at generating electricity equivalent to 1 gigawatt, which has entered into force, the minister said.
Production is expected to start at about 500 megawatts by the end of 2022, with the stations implemented by Total reaching full production capacity during the year 2023.
Projects to generate electricity from solar energy in Karbala and Alexandria with a capacity of 525 megawatts were approved with a Norwegian company, according to Abdul Jabbar.
Other projects were awarded to small companies in Muthanna, Samawah and Al-Khidr, bringing the total energy generated from those projects to 750 megawatts, he said.


PIF’s Noon to create hundreds of customer service jobs in KSA

PIF’s Noon to create hundreds of customer service jobs  in KSA
Noon was launched in the UAE and Saudi Arabia in December 2017, and in Egypt in February 2019. (Supplied)
Updated 12 min 5 sec ago

PIF’s Noon to create hundreds of customer service jobs in KSA

PIF’s Noon to create hundreds of customer service jobs  in KSA
  • In February, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development announced the Saudization of all remote customer service roles in the Kingdom as part of a goal to create around 20,000 job opportunities for citizens

RIYADH: Noon, an online platform backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Dubai businessman Mohamed Alabbar, is to expand its customer service operations in the Kingdom, creating hundreds of jobs for young Saudis.
“I am incredibly proud of the work done by Noon to drive this next chapter of innovation in the region,” said Ahmed Gadouri, the platform’s general manager for Saudi Arabia.
“Boosting our on-the-ground resources with local hires will amplify our customer excellence mission in the Kingdom.”
The customer service roles will mainly be hired in Riyadh, with others working remotely across the Kingdom.
In February, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development announced the Saudization of all remote customer service roles in the Kingdom as part of a goal to create around 20,000 job opportunities for citizens.
Noon was launched in the UAE and Saudi Arabia in December 2017, and in Egypt in February 2019.

FASTFACTS

• With an initial investment of $1 billion and working from headquarters in Riyadh, Noon said in 2016 that it aims to expand online sales in the region from 2 percent of the total retail market ($3 billion) to 15 percent ($70 billion) within a decade.

• The e-commerce market in Saudi Arabia was valued at approximately $4.9billion in 2019.

With an initial investment of $1 billion and working from headquarters in Riyadh, Noon said in 2016 that it aims to expand online sales in the region from 2 percent of the total retail market ($3 billion) to 15 percent ($70 billion) within a decade.
According to the Statista website, the e-commerce market in Saudi Arabia was valued at approximately $4.9 billion in 2019 and forecast to reach $8 billion by 2024.
In a bid to boost its market share, Noon launched a rewards program in Saudi Arabia in March.
The VIP package aims to attract more customers through cashback discounts, speedier deliveries and prioritized customer service.


OPEC+ said to discuss further easing of oil cuts from August

OPEC+ said to discuss further easing of oil cuts from August
Crude oil prices retreated on Tuesday, after Brent rose above $75 a barrel for the first time since April 2019 and as OPEC+ begins discussions on raising oil production. (AFP)
Updated 21 min 4 sec ago

OPEC+ said to discuss further easing of oil cuts from August

OPEC+ said to discuss further easing of oil cuts from August
  • Group is aiming to gradually unwind last year’s record oil output curbs

DUBAI: OPEC+ is discussing a further easing of oil output cuts from August as oil prices rise on demand recovery, but no decision had been taken yet on the exact volume to bring back to the market, two OPEC+ sources said on Tuesday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, is returning 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) to the market from May through July as part of a plan to gradually unwind last year’s record oil output curbs. OPEC+ meets next on July 1.
“It is highly possible to increase gradually from August,” said one of the sources, adding that no final decision had been made and the exact volumes are yet to be agreed on.

HIGHLIGHTS

• OPEC+, is returning 2.1 million bpd to the market from May through July as part of a plan to gradually unwind last year’s record oil output curbs.

• The talks mean that OPEC and Russia are likely to find common ground again on oil production policy.

• Moscow has been insisting on raising output further to avoid prices spiking.

The talks mean that OPEC and Russia are likely to find common ground again on oil production policy. Moscow has been insisting on raising output further to avoid prices spiking, while key OPEC producers have given no signals on the next step until now.
Russian producers see August as a good time to further ease oil output cuts despite the expected return of Iranian barrels as the market is in deficit, an industry source told Reuters on Tuesday.
“Limping” US production also supports the case for easing the curbs, the Russian source said.
Crude oil prices retreated on Tuesday, after Brent rose above $75 a barrel for the first time since April 2019 and as OPEC+ begins discussions on raising oil production, but a strong demand outlook underpinned prices.


Saudi finance minister issues license for STC bank and Saudi digital bank, both under establishment: cabinet statement

Saudi finance minister issues license for STC bank and Saudi digital bank, both under establishment: cabinet statement
Updated 23 June 2021

Saudi finance minister issues license for STC bank and Saudi digital bank, both under establishment: cabinet statement

Saudi finance minister issues license for STC bank and Saudi digital bank, both under establishment: cabinet statement

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s finance minister has issued the necessary license for STC bank and Saudi digital bank, both under establishment, the Saudi cabinet said in a statement on Tuesday.

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