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Friday 17 January 2020

Japan issues arrest warrant for ex-Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn’s wife

Japanese officials have said anyone caught helping a fugitive escape will face legal consequences.

Carlos Ghosn (Kyodo News via AP)
Carlos Ghosn (Kyodo News via AP)

By Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press

Tokyo prosecutors have obtained an arrest warrant for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn’s wife on suspicion of perjury, adding to the couple’s legal troubles in the country where he once was revered as a star executive.

The move against Carole Ghosn, who is not in Japan, followed her husband’s flight to Lebanon last week while he was out on bail awaiting trial for alleged financial misconduct.

Prosecutors said in a statement that Carole Ghosn gave false evidence to a Tokyo court last year in her husband’s case about the transfer of money from one company to another that allegedly caused losses to Nissan.

She also denied knowing various people or meeting them, they said. The allegations cited were unrelated to Ghosn’s escape.

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Carole Ghosn (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

Carole Ghosn was not immediately available for comment but earlier told the Associated Press after her questioning in court that she considered the questions trite and unsubstantial.

She was banned from meeting her husband after his release on bail because of fears she might help tamper with evidence.

Lebanon and Japan do not have an extradition treaty. Japanese justice officials acknowledge it is unclear whether the two can be brought back to Japan to face any charges.

The Lebanese presidential palace said President Michel Aoun met Japanese ambassador Takeshi Okubo, the first known meeting between the president and a Japanese diplomat since Ghosn arrived in the country on December 30.

A statement released by Mr Aoun’s office said Mr Okubo called for more co-operation from Lebanese authorities to avoid “negative repercussions” on relations between the two countries.

Mr Okubo said the Japanese government and people “are extremely worried” about the case, especially the way Ghosn left Japan and entered Lebanon, according to the statement.

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The home of Carlos Ghosn in Beirut (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

Japan’s chief government spokesman said Japanese officials have told Lebanon that Ghosn left the country illegally and they are seeking co-operation in finding out what happened.

Prosecutors have said they did not want Ghosn to be granted bail because they saw him as a flight risk.

“With his abundant financial power and multiple foreign bases worldwide, it would be easy for the defendant Ghosn to flee from Japan,” they said in a statement.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ghosn’s former employer, Nissan, said it was still pursuing legal action against him despite his escape.

The Japanese car maker said in a statement that he engaged in serious misconduct while leading the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance.

“The company will continue to take appropriate legal action to hold Ghosn accountable for the harm that his misconduct has caused to Nissan,” it said.

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Police outside the home of Carlos Ghosn in Beirut (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

Ghosn managed to skip bail and leave the country despite surveillance while he was staying at a home in Tokyo.

Japanese news reports have given new details of that escape, saying he left his residence alone, met two men at a Tokyo hotel, and then took a train to Osaka before boarding a private jet, hidden inside a case for musical equipment.

Japanese business daily Nikkei reported that dozens of people in various countries helped to plan his clandestine departure.

Nissan and Japanese prosecutors allege Ghosn misstated his future compensation and diverted company assets for personal gain. He says he is innocent.

He has not appeared in public since arriving in Lebanon. He is expected to give his side of the story in a news conference planned for Wednesday in Beirut.

PA Media

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