Ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn in Beirut: sources

Beirut (AFP) –


Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn, who was under house arrest in Japan where he was awaiting trial on financial misconduct charges, has flown to Beirut, Lebanese official and security sources said on Monday.

Once revered for rescuing the struggling car manufacturer, the auto tycoon was detained at a Tokyo airport in November last year in a case that sent shockwaves through the business community.

He had been under house arrest and permitted to travel inside Japan with his daughter while preparing for a trial, which had been expected to take place in the spring.

In the latest twist in the saga, a Lebanese official confirmed to AFP that "Ghosn reached Beirut, but it's unclear how he left Japan".

Ghosn arrived at Beirut airport on Monday, the security source said. Local Lebanese media reported that he had arrived by private plane from Turkey.

The conditions of his bail specified that his passports were kept by his lawyers.

Before his detention, the car industry tycoon had increasingly invested time and money in Lebanon where his parents were born and where he spent most of his childhood.

Ghosn spent months in detention after his initial arrest, but was released in the Spring before being re-arrested and put under house arrest.

His release came with strict conditions, including restrictions on seeing his wife and bail of $4.5 million.

The former executive who oversaw the alliance of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors to create the world's top-selling auto group, denies all charges against him.

He is seeking to have the case thrown out, arguing that prosecutors and Nissan investigators acted illegally during a probe into his alleged misconduct and that he would not receive a fair trial.

Ghosn has argued he is the victim of a "plot" by Nissan executives to oust him.

Since his arrest, his lawyers and family have strongly criticised the conditions of detention.

"Carlos Ghosn is not looking to flee his responsibilities, but he's fleeing the injustice of the Japanese system," a source closely involved with Ghosn's case told AFP.

In November, a spokesman for Ghosn said he had talked to his wife for the first time in eight months after a Tokyo court lifted a ban on contact between the pair.

The Brazilian-born executive faces charges of deferring part of his salary until after his retirement and concealing this from shareholders as well as syphoning off millions in Nissan cash for his own purposes.