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Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn arrives in Lebanon after ‘jumping bail’

Ghosn is due to face trial in Japan in April.

Carlos Ghosn (Koji Sasahara/AP)
Carlos Ghosn (Koji Sasahara/AP)

By Sarah el Deeb, Associated Press

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, who is awaiting trial in Japan on charges of financial misconduct, has arrived in Beirut, a close friend said.

It was not clear how Ghosn, who is of Lebanese origins, left Japan where he was under surveillance and is expected to face trial in April, but he apparently jumped bail.

Ricardo Karam, a television host and friend of Ghosn who interviewed him several times, told the Associated Press that Ghosn arrived in Lebanon on Monday morning..

“He is home,” Karam said. “It’s a big adventure.”

Local media first reported Ghosn had arrived in Lebanon, but did not offer details.

There was no immediate comment from Japan.

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A security guard at the residence of Carlos Ghosn in Beirut (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

Ghosn, 65, has been on bail in Tokyo since April and is facing charges of hiding income and financial misconduct. He has denied the charges, but had been under strict bail conditions in Japan after spending more than 120 days in detention.

Lebanon-based paper Al-Joumhouriya said Ghosn arrived in Beirut from Turkey aboard a private jet.

A house known to belong to Ghosn in a Beirut neighbourhood had security guards outside with two lights on Monday night, but no sign of anyone inside. The guards denied he was inside, although one said he was in Lebanon.

Ghosn was arrested last year in Japan and has been charged with under-reporting his compensation and other financial misconduct. He denies wrongdoing and was out on bail. His trial had not started.

His lawyers say the allegations are a result of trumped-up charges rooted in a conspiracy among Nissan, government officials and prosecutors to oust Ghosn to prevent a fuller merger with Nissan’s alliance partner, Renault.

Ghosn, one of the motor industry’s biggest stars before his downfall, is credited with leading Nissan from near-bankruptcy to lucrative growth.

Even as he fell from grace internationally, he was still treated as a hero in Lebanon, where many had long held hopes he would one day play a bigger role in politics, or help rescue its failing economy.

Politicians across the board mobilised in his defence after his arrest in Japan, with some suggesting his detention may be part of a political or business-motivated conspiracy.

The Lebanese took special pride in Ghosn, who holds a Lebanese passport, speaks fluent Arabic and visited regularly. Born in Brazil, where his Lebanese grandfather had sought his fortune, Ghosn grew up in Beirut, where he spent part of his childhood at a Jesuit school.

His wife, Carole Nahas, is also of Lebanese heritage.

Japanese foreign minister Keisuke Suzuki visited Beirut earlier this month where he met the Lebanese president and foreign minister.

PA

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