Indicted former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn has surfaced in Lebanon, despite being under strict bail conditions not to leave Japan as he awaits trial there on charges of financial misconduct during his time at the helm of the automaker.
It is unclear when and how Ghosn left Japan. But a person familiar with the matter confirmed Ghosn’s arrival in Lebanon, where he has citizenship.
The person could not say whether Ghosn, 65, has taken flight from Japan, or possibly struck a deal with local authorities. The terms of Ghosn’s bail in Japan have kept him under tight surveillance by the Tokyo prosecutor’s office.
The Wall Street Journal cited people familiar with the matter saying Ghosn had fled Japan, arriving in Lebanon on Monday. One unidentified person told the newspaper Ghosn did not believe he would get a fair trial there and was “tired of being an industrial political hostage.”
The Financial Times said Ghosn was no longer under house arrest, but said it was not clear whether he had escaped or a deal had been reached.
Ghosn’s attorney did not have an immediate comment.
Ghosn was arrested just over a year ago in Tokyo on allegations of financial improprieties while chairman of Nissan. He has been indicted on four counts in Japan. The first two are charges of failing to disclose tens of millions of dollars in deferred compensation. The two other counts are breach of trust charges that accuse Ghosn of diverting company money for personal gain.
Ghosn, who denies the entire slate of charges, faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to 150 million yen ($1.4 million) if convicted on all four counts.
Ghosn’s lawyers and his wife, Carole Ghosn, have expressed doubt that the former boss of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance would get a fair trial in Japan. Although an official trial date had not yet been set, the case wasn’t expected to head to court until the spring of 2020.
Ghosn’s attorney in Japan argues that prosecutors illegally conspired with Nissan executives and government officials to frame Ghosn and remove him from power in order to prevent a full merger of Nissan with French alliance partner Renault.
In the process, Ghosn’s lawyers have said, prosecutors have also violated Ghosn’s rights by engaging in such activities as illegal evidence collection and denying his right to a speedy trial.
The Tokyo prosecutor’s office has denied inappropriate handling of evidence.
Reuters contributed to this report