Ex- Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn flees to to Lebanon from Japan, where he faces a trial over allegations of financial misconduct.
In a statement, Mr Ghosn said he had not fled justice but “escaped injustice and political persecution”. It is unclear how he managed to leave Japan, where he was arrested in 2018.
The former CEO was awaiting trial in the country and was barred from travelling abroad under strict bail conditions. Mr Ghosn denies any wrongdoing. The 65-year-old was born in Brazil to parents of Lebanese descent and was raised in Beirut, before travelling to France for further education. He holds French and Lebanese passports.
Mr Ghosn released a short statement after multiple news agencies reported he had travelled to Lebanon. Confirming he had gone to the Middle East country, Mr Ghosn said he would “no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied.
“I have not fled justice – I have escaped injustice and political persecution. I can now finally communicate freely with the media, and look forward to starting next week.”
Mr Ghosn has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing since he was first detained. His lawyers have accused the Japanese government of conspiring against him, calling the prosecution’s case “politically motivated”.
How he could have left Japan remains unclear. Mr Ghosn was under strict bail conditions as he awaited trial in Japan, such as video surveillance of his home and restricted phone and computer usage.
He had to surrender his passports to his lawyer, and had to ask for court permission to travel away from home for more than two nights. According to Japan’s Kyodo News agency, the terms of his bail remain unchanged
Once considered a hero in Japan for turning around Nissan – even becoming the subject of a Japanese comic book – Mr Ghosn spent 108 days in custody after his arrest in Tokyo in November 2018.
Nissan sacked him three days after his arrest.
Prosecutors allege that he made a multi-million-dollar payment to a Nissan distributor in Oman. Nissan meanwhile has filed its own criminal complaint against Mr Ghosn, accusing him of diverting money from the company for his own personal enrichment.
He is also accused of under-reporting his own salary. Mr Ghosn denies all the charges.