Africa News Portal – Agencies |
29 December, 2020
Since he fled Japan a year ago, where he is on trial on several charges, including tax evasion, auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn has been living in Beirut a different lifestyle from the one he had been in, with his travel ban and his absence from the limelight.
And the Lebanese-Brazilian-French businessman and the former head of the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi alliance took advantage of the fact that Lebanon does not surrender its citizens to another country for trial, to remain since his mysterious and controversial escape from Tokyo, far from the Japanese judiciary, which had placed him under heavy house arrest.
After roaming the planet, Ghosn, 66, leads a quiet life in Beirut. He lives in an elegant villa that was bought and restored by Nissan when he was its president, located on an elegant street in the Ashrafieh area of Beirut.
Ghosn spends his time with his wife Carole, who did not overlook any of his media appearances to talk about her and the depth of their relationship. He surrounds himself in a narrow circle of close friends. He sometimes spends short vacations in guest houses scattered in several mountainous regions in Lebanon.
In an interview with the French-language L'Orient-Le Jour newspaper in Beirut in early November, Ghosn said, "I do not yearn for anything from my previous life (...), and today I feel that I am rooted (in Lebanon), and this is priceless."
Ghosn arrived in Beirut at the end of last year, after fleeing Japan, where he was arrested in November 2018 and spent 130 days in prison in two stages. The Japanese judiciary charged him with four charges, including not declaring his full income, using Nissan funds that he had saved from bankruptcy to make payments to personal acquaintances and embezzling the company's funds for personal use. The total unauthorized amount is more than 9 billion yen ($ 85 million), according to Tokyo.
Ghosn denied all the accusations during a lengthy press conference he held in Beirut, a week after his arrival there. He spoke with absolute boldness and confidence of his innocence and elaborated on the circumstances of his trial, accusing the Japanese judiciary of being "biased."
Japan later demanded that Lebanon hand over Ghosn to complete his trial. However, the authorities in Beirut asked Tokyo to provide them with his judicial file, which has not happened yet.
In a report published on November 20, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered that "depriving" Ghosn of "freedom" in Japan was "arbitrary." It considered that the conditions for placing him under house arrest "were apparently exceptionally strict."
The group, composed of independent experts who do not speak on behalf of the United Nations and whose opinions are not binding, considered that "the appropriate solution would be to grant Mr. Ghosn a legally enforceable right to compensation and other remedies, in line with international law."
Since his arrest at the end of 2018 in Japan, Ghosn has spoken of a "conspiracy" against him, orchestrated by some of the Nissan executives who are intimidated by the merger project with the Renault company, in "collusion" with the prosecutor's office in Tokyo.
Nissan and Mitsubishi are seeking compensation of 15 million euros for what they consider arbitrary cancellation of his contract. He also started a legal battle against Renault to gain important retirement and equity rights.
Despite the accusations, many in Lebanon in political, academic and business circles still regard Ghosn as a "role model" due to his long career in the auto industry, and a model of Lebanese "creativity" abroad.
Ghosn is often asked about his desire to engage in politics in a country that is experiencing successive crises, an unprecedented economic collapse and a sharp political division. However, he avoids launching political positions and always shows his willingness to put his practical experience in the service of his country without assuming any political position. He said in a previous statement, "I am not a politician and I am not seeking that."
Ghosn appeared on the podium of a private Lebanese university for the first time in months, to jointly launch customized training programs to support entrepreneurs and startups and develop students' skills, while Lebanon is experiencing its worst economic crisis.
And November published a book entitled "The Time of Truth", which he wrote with the French journalist close to Philip Rias, to present his long account of his story, without any self-criticism or revealing new information.
He is also participating in a documentary in preparation about his career, which is supposed to turn into a short series about his life, and start filming next year.
Ghosn constantly refuses to reveal the details of his extraordinary escape, which has caused widespread shock in Japan and around the world. At the end of October, the United States agreed to hand over to Japan two Americans suspected of helping Ghosn flee from Tokyo, via Turkey, and from there to Lebanon.
A team of investigative judges from the Central Bureau for Combating Corruption, Financial and Tax Crimes is expected to hear Ghosn from January 18 to 22 in Beirut, as part of two judicial investigations into him in France, according to sources familiar with the file in Paris.
Besides questionable expenses incurred by Renault and the Dutch subsidiary of Renault-Nissan, investigators are also interested in hearing Ghosn on the issue of tax settlement in the Netherlands while he was head of the coalition.