Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn jumped bail at the end of December by escaping from Japan where he had been awaiting trial for over a year on multiple financial misconduct charges, which he has continually denied.
He has been widely shown on global news networks this week arriving in Lebanon, one of a number of countries of which he is a citizen, reportedly using a French passport and transiting via Turkey on a private jet. In what would be entirely appropriate as a Hollywood movie plot, reports suggest he escaped unnoticed from his Tokyo apartment hidden in a large musical instrument box. It is still unclear what outside assistance made his escape possible.
Carlos Ghosn, who was also chairman of French carmaker Renault SA and of Japan's Mitsubishi Motors, will forego his US$9m bail security and accrue additional charges in Japan in relation to the breach of bail conditions, which prohibited him from leaving Japan among a long list of other personal restrictions.
Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan and officials have confirmed he arrived in the country legally. According to a Bloomberg report, the Lebanese government a weak earlier had requested that Carlos Ghosn and the trial be transferred to Lebanon – without receiving a response from the Japanese government.
Mr Ghosn has now openly offered to stand trial in Lebanon to answer the financial misconduct charges and said he will hold a press conference on the 8th of January to fully brief the media of his intentions.
On arriving at Beirut airport, Mr Ghosn in a statement told reporters: "I have not fled justice – I have escaped injustice and political persecution," adding, "I can finally communicate freely with the media and I look forward to starting this next week."
He claims he would not receive a fair trial in Japan, stating, "I will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed".
Ghosn believes he was the victim of a boardroom coup and that Nissan officials and local prosecutors had colluded to oust him from his position as chairman, fearing a full takeover of Nissan Motor by Renault, which owns 43.4% of the Japanese automaker.
In a separate report that emerged in late December, Nissan Motor's newly-appointed vice-chief operating officer Jun Seki resigned after less than a month in the job. Mr Seki was expected to drive Nissan global recovery after a disastrous 2019. He was widely believed to have had a major disagreement with newly-appointed CEO Makoto Uchida over how to deal with alliance partner Renault.
• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more