Nissan Visionary Turned Fugitive After Slipping Away from Japanese Officials

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Carlos Ghosn, former Renault-Nissan chief, pulled off an almost unbelievable escape from Japanese officials. He mysteriously disappeared while being under close 24-hour supervision and reappeared in Lebanon before his trial was to take place in Japan.

Despite being hated on the other side of the world, Ghosn is a well-respected figure in Lebanon, where he holds citizenship.

No Extradition

Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan; therefore, Ghosn may live out his years as a free man without paying the price for his crimes. He claimed the Japan system was rigged and had escaped “injustice and political persecution.”

Ghosn became widely known after he did what many people thought was impossible. He brought Nissan and Renault together in partnership–Mitsubishi became a third partner later–making the Nissan the auto giant it is today.

The dealmaker’s fame quickly turned to speculation after he was accused of white-collar crimes including fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, for which he was due to stand trial for in March or April of this year.

Prosecutors say that Ghosn under-reported his salary by approximately $85 million over a period of eight years in the company’s securities reports.

The Escape

Ghosn was released on bail under strict supervision, including 24-hour security surveillance in his home. As part of his bail conditions, which was set at $4.5 million, he was not allowed to speak to his wife without approval from the court.

Ghosn walked out of his home on December 29th, which authorities only later discovered via the 24-hour surveillance. He took advantage of the New Year, which nearly halts government activity for holiday celebrations.

After walking out of his home, he boarded a private jet that took him to Turkey. He then traveled to Lebanon, where he is a citizen. His wife, Carole, was there awaiting his arrival. Since his escape, Japan has issued an arrest warrant for Carole Ghosn as well.

Mr. Ghosn has announced plans to hold a press conference on Wednesday. He insists that he organized his escape “alone” and has denied that he had any help from his wife.