Carlos Ghosn, who is awaiting trial on charges of financial misconduct, has left Japan and arrived in Lebanon, according to media reports.
It was not clear if the former Nissan chairman, who was out on bail, had fled Japan or if his defence lawyers had negotiated new bail conditions that allowed him to leave the country.
The Wall Street Journal reported Ghosn did not believe he would receive a fair trial in Japan. The former executive, who rescued Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy two decades ago and masterminded a successful alliance with Renault, was “tired of being an industrial political hostage”, it quoted an associate as saying.
Ghosn’s original bail conditions required him to surrender his passport and remain at a court-designated house in Tokyo preparing for his trial, which was expected to begin in April next year. He was forbidden from seeing his Lebanese-born wife, Carole Nahas, without special permission, and had limited internet access.
Ghosn, who has French and Lebanese citizenship, arrived in Beirut from Turkey on a private plane, Lebanese newspaper Al Joumhouria said, adding that he was expected to hold a news conference in the coming days. “Ghosn reached Beirut, but it’s unclear how he left Japan,” Agence France-Presse quoted a Lebanese security official as saying.
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK quoted a member of Ghosn’s defence team and prosecutors as saying they were unaware that Ghosn may have left the country.
The 65-year-old, who was born in Brazil, was arrested in November 2018 shortly after arriving in Japan on his private jet. He faces four charges, including hiding income and enriching himself through payments to dealerships in the Middle East.
Ghosn, who has consistently denied the charges, spent more than 120 days in detention before being released on bail for a second time in late April. His treatment drew international criticism and claims that prosecutors were subjecting him to “inhuman” treatment.
Ghosn said in a video message in April that he had been unfairly portrayed by “backstabbing” Nissan executives as “a personage of greed and a personage of dictatorship”.
He said he had been the victim of a boardroom coup, accusing former colleagues of targeting him in an attempt to derail a closer alliance between Nissan and Renault.