Wednesday, 8 January 2020

An Update on Carlos Ghosn

The title of this last of three posts today is a little misleading, because it would probably need a dedicated team to keep up-to-date on the case of Carlos Ghosn. In November 2018 we heard from Oluwarotimi Adeniyi-Akintola of Aston Law School how Carlos Ghosn had been accused of financial improprieties and the falsification of securities reports or, as The Independent put it, Nissan had found that he had engaged in the personal use of company money and had under-reported his income in violation of Japanese law. However, since then, the case has taken an almost soap-opera style turn and today, in front of a packed room of reporters in Lebanon, the former Chair of the Nissan Alliance put forward his case as to why he had circumvented the conditions of his House Arrest in Japan and fled to Lebanon.

After being charged by Japanese authorities last year, Ghosn had posted a £6.8 million bail in April. Owing to his abilities and connections, the bail deal was structured so that he was to be monitored by a 24-hour camera inside his house, that his use of technology was to be restricted, and that he was to be banned from travelling abroad – his passports were to be kept at the offices of his Lawyers in Japan. However, in a statement emanating from Lebanon on New Year’s Eve, Ghosn declared ‘I have escaped injustice and political persecution’. Ghosn was born in Brazil to parents of Lebanese descent and, crucially, there is no extradition agreement between Lebanon and Japan. How he managed to escape Japan has been the subject of much debate in the New Year. Although Ghosn today did not confirm how, suggestions have been put forward that he was smuggled through an airport in a musical equipment case to a private jet, by a private security firm that he hired. This suggestion, however, has been dismissed widely and the originator of the story – MTV – have provided no evidence for it. Yet, conversely, the Financial Times ran a story on the former Green Beret who allegedly masterminded the escape.

Nevertheless, the case will no doubt continue to amaze. Today, Ghosn stated that he is not above the law, and looks forward to defending his name in a place that he believes will give him a fair trial (a privilege not shared across society of course). Ghosn has shaped the narrative that insiders within Nissan, and the Japanese system moreover, were against his plans to bring Nissan and Renault closer together and, he proposes, the only way they saw to prevent that was to aim for Ghosn himself. For their part, the Japanese prosecutors denied conspiratorial connections with Nissan and stated, quite rightly, that in addition to confirming that Ghosn had broken more Japanese laws by escaping, that he had provided no further evidence to exonerate him from the charges originally brought against him. It appears that a standoff will ensure whereby Ghosn must only stay in countries that do not have extradition treaties with Japan and, if he does so, there will be no recourse for the Japanese prosecutors.

Keywords – Carlos Ghosn, Nissan, Japan, Justice, Law, Business, @finregmatters

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