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Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn arrives in Lebanon despite house arrest in Japan

In this file photo taken on March 6, 2019 former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn leaves his lawyer's office in Tokyo after he was released earlier in the day from a detention centre after posting bail.
In this file photo taken on March 6, 2019 former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn leaves his lawyer's office in Tokyo after he was released earlier in the day from a detention centre after posting bail. Kazuhiro Nogi, AFP

Former Nissan-Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn has arrived in Lebanon, sources told FRANCE 24 on Monday. It was unclear if Ghosn traveled in violation of a house arrest order in Japan or if a deal was struck for his release. 

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Ghosn arrived at Beirut's Rafic al-Hariri international airport on a private plane from Turkey, according to Lebanese media reports. 

A member of Ghosn’s entourage told Europe 1 French radio that he is not seeking to evade justice but that the legal circumstances in Japan do not allow him to adequately defend himself.

The 65-year-old businessman was arrested in November 2018 as he stepped off his private jet at Tokyo airport over financial misconduct charges. Ghosn has maintained his innocence. 

Ghosn has been charged with under-reporting his post-retirement compensation and breach of trust in diverting Nissan money and allegedly having it shoulder his personal investment losses.

A Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, Ghosn contends that the allegedly underreported compensation was never approved nor paid, and that the payments considered to be a breach of trust were legitimate.

Prosecutors are also looking into allegations that Ghosn funnelled funds from Nissan to a dealership in the Middle East and siphoned off around five million dollars for his personal use.

Ghosn was released in April after paying 500 million yen ($4.5 million) in bail. Ghosn was earlier released on bail in March, but re-arrested and detained again April 4 on new allegations. 

His bail conditions included agreeing not to leave the country and living under surveillance.

Ghosn was sent to Japan by Renault in the late 1990s and is credited with turning around a then near-bankrupt Nissan and helping transform it into one of the world's top auto alliances.

His lawyers said in October that they had requested the financial misconduct charges against him be dismissed. The statement said they filed papers in Tokyo District Court alleging prosecutorial misconduct that would prevent Ghosn from having a fair trial.

The filings allege collusion between prosecutors, government officials and executives at Nissan Motor Company to drum up criminal allegations in order to remove him as chairman.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

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