Earlier this week, news emerged that former Nissan CEO and chairman Carlos Ghosn fled Japan, where he was slated to stand trial for alleged financial crimes, for Lebanon. Now, there’s an international effort to find out exactly how he managed to make it to Beirut and who may have played a role in the process.
After first learning of Ghosn’s escape, Lebanese TV outlet MTV among others reported he fled with the help of a music band under the notion they were there to play for him. The band then left with their instruments, with Ghosn apparently hidden in one of the cases.
At this point, reports suggest Ghosn made his escape on a chartered flight by way of Tokyo to Istanbul, Turkey, then on to his final destination in Lebanon. The New York Times reports Turkish authorities questioned at least seven people Thursday for their possible role in aiding Ghosn’s escape. Japanese authorities also raided his Tokyo residence, and Lebanese officials received a “red notice” from Interpol related to Ghosn’s case.
An Interpol red notice is more or less an international wanted poster. Per their own description: “A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.” However, it is not in itself an arrest warrant, though whichever law enforcement agencies involved could take that sort of action to comply with Interpol rules.
No extradition treaty between Lebanon and Japan
Lebanon doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Japan. That’s a likely reason he escaped there, since he also has Lebanese citizenship. However, the Times points out that Ghosn may ultimately end up in trouble with Lebanon as well. Under Lebanese law, it’s illegal to visit Israel, which three lawyers informed Lebanon’s public prosecutors Ghosn had done before his film-like escape.
For their part, officials in Lebanon have not announced what action, if any, they would take against Ghosn. A Reuters report cited some precedent, in which suspects were not detained. However, officials did confiscate their passports and bail had been set, a source told Reuters.
Mr. Ghosn was reportedly able to make the trip on a spare French passport. French officials declined to comment, but he may attempt to head to France, as he believes he’s subject to a fair trial outside the notably strict Japanese court system. Junior economy minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said that “French citizenship protects, and is protective of its citizens.” That said, she also noted that nobody is above the law.
There are quite a few twists and turns that remain unknown in this latest saga. Carlos Ghosn remains a favorite son in Lebanon and even in France, and we’ll keep posting updates as the story continues to unfold.