The ex-Nissan’s manager’s incredible escape

When Carlos Ghosn reported from Lebanon on Monday, the astonishment was great, since the convicted ex-Nissan boss in Japan was subject to strict bail conditions. How could he escape?

A double bass case, a group of false musicians and lots of unanswered questions – the escape of the former NissanCHEFS Carlos Ghosn out Japan would already offer enough material for a Hollywood film. Investigators in several countries are currently working feverishly to find out how the spectacular night-and-fog campaign was successful.

Ghosn’s apartment was searched in Tokyo on Thursday. In Istanbul, where the ex-manager had landed, the police interrogated four pilots, among others. The Lebanon, where Ghosn fled to, said that the ex-car manager was now being searched for by the international police organization Interpol.

The exact circumstances of the escape are still unclear. According to Turkish media reports, a private jet from Osaka landed at Istanbul Ataturk Airport early Monday morning and is used by cargo and private planes. Another private jet took off for Beirut 45 minutes later.

Escape in the double bass case?

Police interrogated seven suspects in Istanbul on Thursday, the Turkish news agency DHA reported. In addition to the pilots, these are an employee of a cargo airline and two ground staff.

According to media reports, a group of paramilitaries disguised as musicians may have smuggled the ex-manager out of his house in a double bass case. The luggage of private planes is not screened. However, the ex-car manager could have bypassed the controls with diplomatic help.

In a statement, Ghosn contradicted speculation that his family might have been involved in planning his escape. “It was me all alone who organized my departure,” said Ghosn. Reports to the contrary are untrue. “My family didn’t matter.”

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His whereabouts are unknown in Lebanon. The ex-manager owns a luxury property in Beirut. He has French, Brazilian and Lebanese citizenship.

Japan requests extradition – Lebanon sees no reason

The Japanese television stations showed live on Thursday how investigators in dark suits entered Ghosn’s apartment in Tokyo. The NHK reported that they were expected to evaluate the surveillance cameras installed there. The police suspect “several people” of “illegally” helping him escape.

Japan applied to Interpol for a so-called red note on Ghosn’s arrest and extradition – the letter arrived in Lebanon on Thursday afternoon. The country has no extradition agreement with Japan. The Lebanese government has also said that Ghosn entered the country “legally” with a French passport and a Lebanese ID card. The Attorney General said there was no reason for legal persecution in Lebanon.

Ghosn is said to have stolen company money

Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November 2018. The prosecutor accuses him, among other things, of misusing company capital and transferring private losses to Nissan. He himself spoke of a conspiracy at Nissan to get rid of him. The reason is that he wanted to bring Nissan even closer to the French car maker Renault.

He was imprisoned for around four months, but was released under strict conditions in the spring. Ghosn’s lawyers had tried several times to get her client free on bail. They initially failed because the public prosecutor’s office saw a risk of escape. Ghosn had denied intent to flee and said he would be on trial in court to prove his innocence. His lawyers also argued that he was too well known to be able to leave the country without being recognized.

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As the AFP news agency learned from investigators, Ghosn had a special permit from a Japanese court and carried his French passport with him in a kind of case that was locked by a secret code known only to his lawyers. Since Ghosn was able to move relatively freely within Japan, he needed this passport as proof of his residence status.

Ghosn apparently did not use this pass for his departure from Japan. The French government said it would not extradite Ghosn if he went there. “When Monsieur Ghosn arrives in France, we will not deliver him because France never delivers its citizens,” said Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Agnès Pannier-Runacher on BFM.

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