Fugitive ex-Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn says family played no role in escape from Japan

A file photo taken on Sept 15, 2017 shows then-Renault-Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn at a press conference in Paris.
A file photo taken on Sept 15, 2017 shows then-Renault-Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn at a press conference in Paris.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS/NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Carlos Ghosn, the former automotive titan who fled criminal charges in Japan, said his wife Carole and other family members played no part in his escape to Lebanon.

“I alone organised my departure,” Ghosn said in a brief statement issued through a public relations firm. “My family played no role.”

The communique shows Ghosn is itching to give his version of events and shield his family from any legal blowback. He said Tuesday he’s ready to “finally communicate freely with the media” as soon as next week.

It’s still a mystery how Ghosn, one of the most recognisable foreigners in Japan, sneaked out of the country despite round-the-clock surveillance – an escape befitting a Hollywood thriller.

French daily Le Monde has reported, citing unidentified sources, that Carole Ghosn organised the flight with the help of her brothers and their contacts in Turkey. In his statement, Ghosn described such reports as false.

After making his escape, the former head of Nissan Motor and Renault SA released an email Tuesday decrying the “injustice and political persecution” of the Japanese judicial system. The 65-year-old faced charges of financial misconduct and raiding corporate resources for personal gain.

Ghosn has said the charges are false, trumped up by Nissan executives, Japanese prosecutors and government officials who opposed his plans to more deeply integrate Nissan and Renault.

Private Jet

Theories abound on how Ghosn carried out his escape. The former executive appears to have reached Lebanon on a private jet operated by a subsidiary of Turkey’s MNG Holding, according to a senior Turkish official with direct knowledge of the matter.

 
 

That’s after Ghosn apparently flew to Istanbul on another MNG aircraft on Monday morning, before being transferred between the two airplanes inside a box, the official said, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Turkish authorities detained seven people, including four pilots, after the country began an investigation into the matter. An operations manager for a private cargo company and two employees of a private ground services firm were also pulled in for questioning, state run news agency Anadolu reported.

The escape to Lebanon, where Ghosn is still regarded by many as a national hero, marked a turn in his fortunes. He has citizenship in Lebanon – as well as France and Brazil – and has appeared on postage stamps in the Middle East country.

Shortly after his arrest in Tokyo in November 2018, a Beirut billboard proclaimed: “We are all Carlos Ghosn.”