Carlos Ghosn held a press conference for the first time since his December 31 escape from Japan, of which he said shortly after, “I did not escape justice. I fled injustice.” The former Nissan executive spoke to reporters from Beirut, Lebanon on Wednesday in his first public appearance since his departure from Japan, where he had been awaiting trial for alleged financial crimes.
In holding the press conference, Ghosn said he was there to clear his name. He refused to discuss details of how he left the country, but did say “I felt I was a hostage of a country that I have served for 17 years.” As he has done since his November 2018 arrest, he denied the charges of financial wrongdoing brought against him by Japanese prosecutors.
Instead, he claims the ordeal was an effort by the board of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to oust him. He criticized Nissan executives, whom he said were threatened by Renault’s growing power in the venture. “Unfortunately, there was no trust, and some of our Japanese friends thought that the only way to get rid of the influence of Renault on Nissan was to get rid of me,” he said. “This is political. I am innocent of all charges, and I can prove it now.”
During the press conference, Ghosn showed projections of some documents, though many were illegible to reporters during his statement. He also likened his arrest to Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, and went on to describe his time in Japanese custody in bleak terms. “You are going to die in Japan, or you are going to have to get out,” Ghosn said.
The investigation into Ghosn’s escape deepens
Beyond Ghosn stating his side of events, investigators are looking into how Ghosn fled Japan in the first place. The Japanese Ministry of Justice stated it would try to find a way to bring Ghosn back to the country, though it has no extradition treaty with Lebanon. The country also issued an arrest warrant for Ghosn’s wife Carole, alleging she played a role in her husband’s escape. When he arrived in Beirut, Ghosn vehemently denied his wife or family aided his escape from Japan.
For its part, Nissan did not comment on the press conference. However, CNN Business points out that the company stated earlier it would take “appropriate legal action” against the former executive.