Carlos Ghosn used one of two French passports to flee Japan: Media

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn photographed in April 2019 leaving the Tokyo Detention House. He had won bail in April but with strict conditions, including a bar on overseas travel. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP, REUTERS) - Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, who fled to Lebanon to avoid a Japanese trial, was carrying one of his two French passports, local media said on Thursday (Jan 2), as Japan launched a probe into the embarrassing security lapse.

Prosecutors on Thursday raided his Tokyo residence, public broadcaster NHK also reported.

Ghosn, who faces multiple charges of financial misconduct that he denies, won bail in April but with strict conditions, including a bar on overseas travel.

His lead lawyer Junichiro Hironaka has said lawyers hold three passports belonging to the international tycoon, who holds French, Brazilian and Lebanese nationalities.

However, Ghosn had been issued a spare French passport, NHK said, citing unidentified sources, and carried it in the months before his departure.

NHK said the court had allowed him to keep the second French passport so long as it was kept "in a locked case" with the key held by his lawyers.

NHK said he had been "obliged" to carry the passport with him since May, without elaborating on the reason.

Foreigners in Japan are required to carry government-issued identification cards or passports at all times. NHK said his lawyers applied to have the terms of his bail changed so that he could carry a passport in a locked case.

There is no emigration data showing Ghosn's departure from Japan but he entered Lebanon on a French passport, NHK said.

Prosecutors and police are poised to launch an investigation into the stunning escape, suspecting he departed "in an unlawful manner", NHK said.

Authorities plan to analyse security camera footage from his residence and other places they suspect Ghosn appeared before he fled, NHK said.

Police suspect "several" people accompanied him to help him escape, it added.

The businessman was smuggled out of Tokyo by a private security company days ago, the culmination of a plan that was crafted over three months, Reuters has reported.

When his defence lawyers were arguing for bail, prosecutors claimed he was a flight risk with powerful connections, but Ghosn himself had said he wanted to be tried to prove his innocence.

One of his lawyers also said he was such a famous face that he had no chance to slip away undetected.

Some countries allow people to have two passports of the same nationality, for reasons including if they are travelling to nations in conflict with one another.

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