Carlos Ghosn is just the latest CEO to skip out in style
The former chief executive of Nissan largely stuck to the time-honoured traditions of tycoons on the lam — he fled by air to a country where his status as an investor meant he would be welcome, writes Jonathan Guthrie, head of the FT’s Lex column.
Countries popular with business fugitives also tend to be helpfully sanguine over allegations of financial impropriety. Carlos Ghosn is now in Lebanon. Kobi Alexander, former CEO of New York-based Comverse Technology, headed for Namibia in 2006. Asil Nadir, a prominent UK businessman, holed up in northern Cyprus for 17 years.
Japan, in contrast, is a law-abiding place. This could explain the apparent ease with which Mr Ghosn skipped house arrest and bail. A surveillance camera was watching his front door. The Japanese police may have assumed no one would be so underhand as to sneak out the back. Game, set and match to Mr Ghosn’s private security contractors. They can now add “executive outplacement” to their list of services.
Mr Ghosn travelled to Turkey aboard a private jet, as you would expect of a high-status fugitive.
Less glamorously, a 2017 Ryanair flight to Greece was the last known whereabouts of Ruja Ignatova, a self-styled cryptocurrency entrepreneur indicted for fraud in the US. Her OneCoin business, widely condemned as a Ponzi scheme, attracted an estimated €4bn from investors. Like the money, Ms Ignatova could now be anywhere.
Business people who are in hot water have a habit of disappearing. Pretending to be dead is one refinement, usefully sapping the resolve of would-be pursuers. David Elias, whose SLS Capital was implicated in City frauds, was reportedly alive and well in 2011, two years after his obituary was published.