Ghosn denies family involved in escape as arrests made

Oscar Williams-GrutSenior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn has denied his family helped plan his audacious escape from Japan, as arrests were made in connection to the case and Interpol issued a ‘red notice’ for Ghosn.

Ghosn said in a brief statement sent to media on Thursday: “There has been speculation in the media that my wife Carole, and other members of my family played a role in my departure from Japan. All such speculation is inaccurate and false.

“I alone arranged for my departure,” Ghosn said according to Reuters. “My family had no role whatsoever.”

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Nissan's former chairman Carlos Ghosn escaped to Lebanon from Japan on New Year's Eve. Photo: Hironaka Law Office via Getty Images
Nissan's former chairman Carlos Ghosn escaped to Lebanon from Japan on New Year's Eve. Photo: Hironaka Law Office via Getty Images

The statement came just hours after arrests were made in Turkey in connection with Ghosn’s escape from Japan on New Year’s Eve.

Turkish media agency Anadolu said police arrested seven people in connection with Ghosn’s clandestine journey from Japan to Lebanon. Four pilots, two staff at a private security company, and an operations director at a courier company were arrested, according to Anadolu.

Ghosn, the millionaire former chairman of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi car alliance, skipped bail in Japan earlier this week. The car executive has been on bail under house arrest in Tokyo since April 2019, following his arrest in November 2018 on charges including misuse of company funds.

Early reports suggested Ghosn escaped from under the noses of the Japanese police by smuggling himself out of his house in a musical instrument case. However, Ghosn's wife denied this account, according to the Guardian. After escaping house arrest, Ghosn somehow managed to fly to Lebanon via Turkey.

READ MORE: Ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn escaped Japan 'in instrument case'

Interpol on Thursday issued a wanted notice for Nissan’s ex-chairman Ghosn on Thursday, the Lebanese justice minister said. Lebanon and Japan do not have an extradition treaty and Interpol cannot force any member states’s police forces to obey ‘red notices’, but the ‘red notice’ could make it difficult for Ghosn to travel internationally.

Ghosn’s escape, which has been compared to the plot of a thriller film, has shocked Japan. Ghosn’s Japanese lawyer told journalists he was unaware of his client’s movements shortly after the operation. He called Ghosn’s flight “unforgivable.” Japanese police were pictured raiding Ghosn’s Tokyo home on Thursday looking for clues.

Japanese prosecutors carry bags as they leave the residence of former auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn on 2 January 2020, after Ghosn fled Japan to avoid a trial. Photo: STR/Jiji Press/AFP via Getty Images
Japanese prosecutors carry bags as they leave the residence of former auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn on 2 January 2020, after Ghosn fled Japan to avoid a trial. Photo: STR/Jiji Press/AFP via Getty Images

Questions remain about potential Lebanese state involvement. Ghosn, who holds a Lebanese passport, reportedly met with the nation’s president when he arrived in Beirut on Tuesday, according to local TV, and pictures showed Lebanese security forces outside his house.

How Ghosn passed through international airports in Japan and Turkey is also unclear. The 65-year-old holds Brazilian, French, and Lebanese passports but was forced to hand them to the state upon his arrest.

Japanese media reported that Ghosn had two French passports and was allowed to keep one in a locked case, with his lawyer holding the key.

Ghosn said he had “escaped injustice and political persecution” after reaching Lebanon. He claims he is a victim of a “conspiracy” at Nissan and has consistently denied the charges against him.

The car mogul is expected to give a full press conference to international press next Wednesday, according to the Guardian.

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