Fugitive says family did not help him leave Japan

Carlos Ghosn, seen here with his wife Carole in Tokyo last year, said he alone organised his departure from Japan to Lebanon. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Carlos Ghosn, seen here with his wife Carole in Tokyo last year, said he alone organised his departure from Japan to Lebanon. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BEIRUT • Former automotive titan Carlos Ghosn said his wife Carole and other family members played no part in his escape from Japan to Lebanon.

"I alone organised my departure," he 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.

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

French daily Le Monde reported, citing unidentified sources, that Mrs 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.

Mrs Ghosn's brother, Mr Alain Nahas, also dismissed the reports as "nonsense" and told Bloomberg News that he has no other siblings besides his sister.

"I found out when you found out," Mr Nahas, who runs an automotive parts wholesale company in New Jersey, said in a phone interview on Thursday.

"I'm happy about it. It exposes Japan as a country similar to totalitarian regimes. If I were him, I would have done the same and you would have done the same."

Japanese media reported yesterday that surveillance footage shows Ghosn left the house alone on the day of his disappearance but did not return.

That contrasts with speculation that he was smuggled from the premises inside a large musical case brought in earlier by a band.

Ghosn probably boarded a private jet from a quiet lounge in Kansai International Airport in western Osaka city.

Somehow, he appears to have passed immigration and luggage checks before a flight to Istanbul, the plane's owner MNG Jet said.

Airport spokesman Kenji Takanishi told Reuters: "He would have had to go through as a passenger, perhaps in disguise."

The slightly built man does have experience in disguises: when first released on bail in March, he walked out of the detention centre disguised as a workman to avoid media.

After landing in Turkey, Ghosn switched planes and flew on to his childhood homeland Lebanon.

Mr Takanishi said privacy was a big attraction for wealthy travellers at the 300 sq m Premium Gate Tamayura - which means "fleeting moment" - for private jets.

Even so, it remains a mystery how Ghosn was able to orchestrate his departure despite being under strict surveillance by the Japanese authorities, with movements and communications curtailed.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2020, with the headline 'Fugitive says family did not help him leave Japan'. Print Edition | Subscribe