Nissan has finally broken its silence on former chairman Carlos Ghosn’s incredible escape from Japan, saying that the “extremely regrettable” move will not stop the company from pursuing legal action against him.
Ghosn, one of the world’s most prominent businessmen, fled Japan – where he was set to face trial for embezzlement and under-reporting his income – shortly before the new year. It took the Japanese carmaker, which Ghosn virtually saved from bankruptcy nearly two decades ago, more than a week to issue an official statement on the matter.
Nissan said it has “incontrovertible” proof of its former boss’s misconduct, which significantly affected the company.
“Ghosn’s flight will not affect Nissan’s basic policy of holding him responsible for the serious misconduct uncovered by the internal investigation,” the release issued on Tuesday reads. “The company will continue to take appropriate legal action to hold Ghosn accountable for the harm that his misconduct has caused to Nissan.”
The manufacturer also reiterated that, while the investigation into his wrongdoings is still ongoing in France, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) already concluded that Ghosn’s conduct was “fraudulent.” Notably, the ex-Nissan chairman reached a civil settlement with the US agency last year, while France has not brought any charges against him so far.
The 65-year-old businessman has repeatedly denied the charges of financial misconduct. After he arrived in Lebanon, he said that he fled the “rigged Japanese justice system” and “political persecution.”
Ghosn is set to speak to the press on Wednesday to shed light on the details of the claims against him. He recently told Fox Business he can prove he was a victim of coup to take him down, which he says was due to his desire to deepen the alliance between Nissan and French automaker Renault. He claimed his demise was supported by some Japanese government officials, and promised to reveal some names behind the scheme.
It is still unclear how the celebrity fugitive managed to escape, with various versions circulating in the media. Some reports say Ghosn used public transport to get from Tokyo to Osaka, where he could board a private jet bound for Istanbul before heading to Beirut. He reportedly managed to exploit a security loophole at the Japanese airport, hiding in an equipment case or a crate designed for the transport of musical instruments – one which was too large for the baggage scanner in the terminal.
The gateway flight, reportedly operated by MNG Jet, could have cost up to $350,000, according to CNBC sources. The report says that the jet was leased by the firm Al-Nitaq Al Akhdhar for General Trade Limited, and named Dr. Ross Allen as a person involved in securing the flight.
Tokyo has already promised to tighten departure controls, and several people were detained in Turkey over the case. Japan has also asked Lebanon for help over the fugitive, while Interpol has sent an arrest warrant for the fallen Nissan chief.
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