Ghosn's Tokyo home raided as probe into his escape widens

Officials from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office carrying bags out after raiding the Tokyo residence of Carlos Ghosn as part of an investigation into his escape from Japan to Lebanon. NHK said the authorities are expected to analyse securi
Officials from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office carrying bags out after raiding the Tokyo residence of Carlos Ghosn as part of an investigation into his escape from Japan to Lebanon. NHK said the authorities are expected to analyse security camera footage from his residence and places they suspect he travelled to before he fled. PHOTO: REUTERS

Ex-Nissan boss fled to Lebanon with a second French passport

TOKYO • Japanese officials have raided the Tokyo residence of former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn who fled to Lebanon to avoid a trial, while Turkey detained several people as part of a widening probe into the security lapse.

The 65-year-old Ghosn faces multiple charges of financial misconduct that he denies. He won bail in April last year, but with strict conditions, including a ban on overseas travel.

Ghosn, who has French, Brazilian and Lebanese citizenship, managed to slip out of Japan on Sunday despite having handed over his three passports to his lawyers.

A court in Tokyo allowed him to keep a second French passport as he needed one to travel within Japan, a source told AFP yesterday.

"He had to keep this passport" to prove his short-stay status, the source said, adding: "There was permission from the court."

Ghosn was allowed this French passport so long as it was kept in a locked case with the code held by his lawyers, the source said.

There is no data showing his departure from Japan but he entered Lebanon on a French passport, public broadcaster NHK said.

Sources close to Ghosn said he decided to flee Japan after learning at a recent court hearing that one of his two trials would be delayed until April 2021, and also because he had not been allowed to speak to his wife, Carole.

"They said they needed another whole year to prepare for it... He was distressed about not being able to see or speak to his wife," one of the sources said.

No firm date has been set for either trial, but at least one was widely expected to start this April.

Under the terms of his bail, he could not communicate with his wife while his use of the Internet and other communications was restricted while confined to his house in Tokyo.

 
 
 
 

A request to see or speak to his wife over Christmas was denied, the sources said. They also said he was unnerved by news that his daughter and son had been questioned by Japanese prosecutors in the US last month. He was convinced the authorities were looking to force a confession from him by putting pressure on his family.

Colourful rumours abound regarding the exact circumstances of Ghosn's daring escape.

Meanwhile, Turkey's Interior Ministry has opened an investigation into Ghosn's apparent transfer between private jets at an Istanbul airport on Monday.

Officials have detained seven people, including four pilots, as part of the probe, news agency DHA reported yesterday.

Flight tracking data suggests Ghosn used two different planes to fly into Istanbul and then on to Lebanon.

Japanese prosecutors yesterday raided Ghosn's Tokyo residence as part of an investigation into his escape. Television footage showed several officers entering the property.

The authorities are expected to analyse security camera footage from his residence and other places they suspect Ghosn travelled to before he fled, NHK said.

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

The Japanese government has yet to issue any official statement on the case.

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

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2020, with the headline 'Ghosn's Tokyo home raided as probe into his escape widens'. Print Edition | Subscribe