Former Nissan boss, Carlos Ghosn, has fled Japan despite facing charges of financial misconduct.
Ghosn in a statement he issued on Tuesday said he has travelled to Lebanon, the country of his wife’s birth, in order not to be held hostage by what he described as a “rigged Japanese justice system”.
The former head of the car manufacturing company, who holds Lebanese, French and Brazilian passports, insisted that he “has not fled justice” but “escaped injustice and political persecution”.
Ghosn, according to the statement, said he would “no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied.
“I have not fled justice – I have escaped injustice and political persecution. I can now finally communicate freely with the media, and look forward to starting next week.”
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But Junichiro Hironaka, lawyer to Ghosn, said he was “dumbfounded” by the action of his client, especially since the defence legal team was in possession of the 65-year-old passports.
“I don’t even know if we can contact him. I don’t know how we will proceed beyond that. Lebanon has no extradition agreement with Japan,” Hironaka told reporters in Tokyo, the Japanese capital, on Tuesday.
Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo in November 2018 and spent 108 days in custody before he was granted bail.
Nissan sacked him three days after his arrest.
Prosecutors allege that he made a multi-million-dollar payment to a Nissan distributor in Oman. Nissan, meanwhile, has filed its own criminal complaint against Ghosn, accusing him of diverting money from the company for his own personal enrichment.
He is also accused of underreporting his own salary. He, however, denies all the charges.
Ghosn was released on $9 million bail in April under strict conditions that barred him from travelling abroad.
He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing since he was first detained. His lawyers have accused the Japanese government of conspiring against him, calling the prosecution’s case “politically motivated”.
How Ghosn could have left Japan remains unclear. There was video surveillance of his home and he had restricted phone and computer usage.
Speculations in Japanese media suggest that Ghosn may have used a different passport with a different name.