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The Great Escape: Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s Run From Japan Is One For The Movies

The Great Escape: Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s Run From Japan Is One For The Movies

Just you wait…there will be a movie about this story within ten years’ time. Probably sooner, because no Hollywood hack could’ve dreamed up half of what actually went down. On December 30, 2019, reports started to surface that former Nissan chairman Carlo Ghosn had managed to somehow escape constant surveillance, a lack of contact with the world outside of his lawyers, and Japanese authorities and had managed to fly back to Lebanon unchallenged. That alone would make a good story, but the details are the stuff of sheer fantasy.

Let’s roll it back a bit just so there’s clarification as to what actually took place prior to the great escape. Ghosn at one point in time was one of the auto industry’s titans. He was the chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. He had performed a miraculous turnaround of Nissan. He had been the CEO of Michelin North America. So it came a shock when on November 19th, 2018, Ghosn was arrested in Japan for under-reporting on his earnings and misuse of company assets. In Japan, those claims are serious nature, but there was also a second layer to the story, one that claimed that Ghosn was preparing to fire Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa and reinstate Greg Kelly, Ghosn’s top aide, who was also arrested and charged.

Over the next few months, Ghosn was charged with more crimes, usually the day his imprisonment was scheduled to end or his bail set to begin: On December 21, 2018 he was re-arrested on suspicion of shifting personal losses to Nissan’s books; on January 11th, 2019, he was charged with aggravated breach of trust and understating his income. After paying about $9 million in bail that March, he was re-arrested April 4th on grounds of more financial misconduct. On April 8th, Ghosn was removed from the company board by a shareholder vote, and the next day he posted a YouTube video that blasted the accusations levied against him. In late April he was released again, but back to his house arrest that included no contact with his wife.

Now, back to the events of December 30th, 2019. Ghosn, resigned to a feeling that he would never get a fair trial in a country that has a 99% convict rate and a system that had pushed one of his trials to the spring of 2021, simply walked out of the door of his apartment. He managed to escape Tokyo and catch a plane in Osaka, rumored to have been hidden inside of a large musical instrument case and assisted by and ex-Green Beret, make a transfer to a second plane after landing in Istanbul, and wind up on a jet headed to Beirut. Once in Beirut, just as news reports were starting to hit the waves saying that Ghosn had straight-up ghosted Japan altogether, he produced a statement admitting it:

“I am now in Lebanon and will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied, in flagrant disregard of Japan’s legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold. 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.”

All the while, Ghosn’s Japanese attorney, Junichiro Hironaka, was left stunned. He was holding all three of Ghosn’s passports and had no clue as to what had happened. Japanese officials have been nothing short of boiling over the escape…they see Ghosn as a criminal no matter what, who utilized his ample wealth to run from justice. Japan has requested that INTERPOL issue a “red notice”, which is equivalent to a wanted persons notice for the international community, but is not an outright arrest warrant. That isn’t enough to get him extradited back to Japan from Lebanon…or France, if he chooses to go there. But he’s got enough problems without thinking about extradition: in France, his dealings on behalf of Renault still need some addressing and Lebanon themselves have an issue with him traveling to Israel on company business (travel to Israel is forbidden in Lebanese law.)

And this story isn’t even done unfolding yet. Stay tuned, folks…Ghosn is expected to attend a press conference on January 8th, 2020.

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3 thoughts on “The Great Escape: Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s Run From Japan Is One For The Movies

    1. john

      “Supito….should we open the shipping box?….I dunno Dummo san…how could someone fit along with musical instruments???? …And we wonder how they lost WW II.

  1. Piston Pete

    What threw ’em off was the ‘Allman Brothers Band, Macon,Georgia’ stenciled onto the other side of the case.

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