BEIRUT: Lebanon on Thursday received an Interpol arrest warrant for fugitive businessman Carlos Ghosn following his secret escape from Japan.
The former Nissan chief was awaiting trial in Japan on financial misconduct charges but evaded authorities and detection to travel to Lebanon, arriving in Beirut on New Year’s Eve.
His flit shocked Japan, surprising even his defence team who had three of his passports.
The Interpol wanted notice, or what Lebanon refers to as the Red Notice, reached the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and was transferred to Cassation Public Prosecution.
Judicial sources told Arab News that the notice included an international arrest warrant for Ghosn at the request of Japanese authorities.
The sources said: “The Cassation Public Prosecution is in the process of summoning Carlos Ghosn to question him on the crimes for which he is wanted in Japan. The Japanese authorities might request to attend Ghosn’s hearing. Prosecutor General Ghassan Oueidat is currently appointing a public defender to listen to Ghosn and if the Japanese authorities request to attend the hearing, they can do that or send the questions they wish to ask Ghosn. The accusation against Ghosn is tax evasion. In Lebanon, a Lebanese who commits tax evasion in another country does not get tried. He only gets tried if he commits this crime on Lebanese territory. The sentence for committing this crime in Lebanon does not exceed imprisonment for six months, and Carlos Ghosn has spent this period and more (in the place) where he committed his crime.”
He stands accused of two counts of under-reporting his salary by tens of millions of dollars from 2010 to 2018, deferring some of his pay and failing to declare this to shareholders.
Prosecutors also allege he attempted to get Nissan to cover millions of dollars in personal foreign exchange losses during the 2008 financial crisis.
The fourth charge against him is that he allegedly transferred millions from Nissan funds to a dealership in Oman and skimmed off sums for personal use.
He has consistently denied all charges against him, using his escape to denounce the Japanese justice system and proclaim his innocence.
Meanwhile lawyers Jad Toameh, Hassan Bazzi and Ali Abbas have lodged a complaint with Cassation Public Prosecution against Ghosn for committing the crime of entering “an enemy country” and violating the boycott law against Israel based on information about him signing contracts and attending business conferences in Israel.
Toameh said: “After Israeli collaborator Amer Fakhoury ... entered Lebanon and we lodged a complaint against him, the complaint took its legal course before the examining magistrate. We find ourselves today facing a new similar situation in which Ghosn is involved, and we are awestruck by the silence of the Lebanese political parties affiliated with the resistance in the face of these security breaches.”
But judicial sources told Arab News that Ghosn had entered Israel with a French passport, not as a Lebanese citizen, and that he was the head of the largest carmaker in the world.