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Criminal Charges Against the Former Nissan CEO, His Arrest & Escape From Japan

2020.01.28

Carlos Ghosn – a Former Nissan Chief

Who is Carlos Ghosn? For the longest time (from 2001 – 2017), the Brazilian-born businessman, with French and Lebanese nationality, was known as the chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.  However, in early February 2017, the former Nissan CEO stepped down from the esteemed position and was succeeded by Hiroto Saikawa.

In November 2018, Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan Chief, was publicly arrested when his private jet touched down at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. The news sent shockwaves through the Japanese media, the corporate world, and the entire nation of Japan.  Since then, many major developments have taken place in the Carlos Ghosn arrest scandal.

If you are curious about this whole case and want to learn everything about it, stick around while we uncover everything – the charges against the business mogul, his detention in Tokyo, followed by his bail, and his hush-hush escape to Lebanon. Here, you will get all the nitty-gritty details about the notorious Carlos Ghosn case.

Why was Carlos Ghosn Arrested?

The public arrest of Carlos Ghosn came as a shock to the entire world. The once hero status of the business tycoon came crumbling down in an instant. Nissan’s ex-CEO had just landed after one of his trips in a private jet on November 22, 2018, when he was caught off guard as he was arrested for financial crimes. Japanese prosecutors alleged that the former CEO of Nissan, with the assistance of his right- hand man at Nissan – Greg Kelly, under-reported his income for at least eight years.

On January 10, 2019, Ghosn was also accused of trying to get Nissan to cover his personal foreign exchange losses worth approximately 1.85 billion yen. If this wasn’t enough, Ghosn was charged with another criminal offense, which involved his role in investing $5 million worth of Nissan’s money in an automobile company he owned.

Prosecutors also charged Ghosn for transferring $14.7 million from the “CEO reserve” fund to an associate for his collateral. Ghosn conveniently denied all the charges set against him and further notified that the money transferred to an “associate” was a Saudi – Khaled Juffali – who worked for Nissan. Soon after this statement, Juffali’s company released a statement, testifying that the money was a payment for “legitimate business purposes.”

What Happened After Carlos Ghosn Was Arrested?

In the words of Ghosn’s lawyer – Takashi Takano, Carlos Ghosn’s “doubts and concerns began to grow” after his arrest. The Japanese lawyer spoke to the media and said that Ghosn was frustrated and dejected over the charges that were brought against him. Takano further informed the media that Ghosn was a victim of a conspiracy among the prosecutors and that his client was innocent. However, soon after Ghosn’s arrest, a court in Japan granted bail to the former Nissan chief, but on one condition – he was not allowed to meet his wife, Carole. This step was taken to prevent the couple from tampering with any evidence that was pertinent to the case.

According to several media reports, this restriction caused Ghosn great distress, and he complained to his lawyer, “this is a criminal punishment. When am I ever going to be able to lead a normal family life?” It has also been reported that Ghosn was allowed only a one-hour video call with his wife in a lawyer’s office, under strict surveillance. This was his first interaction with Carole in months.

Why & How Did Carlos Ghosn Escape Japan?

In January 2020, news broke out that Carlos Ghosn escaped Japan to his homeland in Beirut, Lebanon.  The question that arises is, “why?” It’s no news that the justice system of Japan is super rigid. Japanese press states that Ghosn was “done with Japan,” given how unforgiving their justice system is. The statements from Ghosn’s lawyer and his wife are further proof that Ghosn had little hope of getting out of this case with a “not guilty” verdict.

Carlos Ghosn was under house arrest in Japan, awaiting trial for his financial crime charges. But the multi-millionaire escaped the political persecution by secretly fleeing from Japan on New Year’s Eve. According to several media reports, the escape plan was meticulously planned over the course of several weeks or months. CCTV footage shows that Ghosn left his house and went to a hotel near Kansai International Airport, where he was joined by two men. Two hours later, the two men were seen coming out of the hotel with two huge containers. Ghosn was secretly transported to a private jet that was bound for Istanbul, and from there, he continued his journey to Beirut. However, a few reports that are all over social media claim that Ghosn escaped Japan in the disguise of a musician with a group of men dressed up as band members. It is also being believed that Ghosn hid in a music case and fled the country.

Conclusion

Ghosn and Carole maintain that unlawfully fleeing the country was the best way for the former Nissan CEO to escape the “unfair charges,” even though Ghosn was constantly assured by his lawyer that all charges may be dropped, given that people had been let off the hook for more serious crimes in the past. The legal system of Japan is recognized for having high conviction rates. However, the defendants are given a fair chance to present their case in front of the jury, and the judgments are strictly based on the evidence.

As Ghosn’s criminal offenses have come to light, so has the rigid Japanese judicial system. The modern Japanese legal system is deeply rooted in traditional values and continues to uphold its stance to encourage good behavior among people and punish them for their wrongdoings.

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