Carlos Ghosn fled Japan using a second French passport that the courts let him keep, reports say

  • Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn reportedly used a second French passport during his high-stakes escape from Japan to Lebanon on Sunday.
  • Ghosn surrendered his four passports to authorities in November 2018 when he was arrested: One Brazilian, one Lebanese, and two French.
  • But prosecutors let Ghosn access one French passport in May 2019 to use internally in Japan, the AFP News Agency and Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported. 
  • Ghosn was set to stand trial in Tokyo in April on charges of financial misconduct. He was accused of hiding $80 million in payments from Nissan.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories. 

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn used a second French passport to escape Japan for Lebanon on Sunday, according to reports.

Ghosn arrived in Beirut on Monday, despite surrendering his four passports — two French, one Lebanese, and one Brazilian — to Japanese authorities upon his arrest in November 2018. 

Despite taking possession of the documents, Japan’s courts allowed Ghosn to access the second French passport in May 2019 for use inside Japan, Agency France Press (AFP) reported, citing a source.

“He had to keep this passport” to prove his short-stay status, the source said. They also said “There was permission from the court.”

Until the AFP report was published, many assumed Ghosn had managed to leave Japan without a passport.

He was scheduled to stand trial in Tokyo in April on charges of financial misconduct following his arrest in November 2018. He was accused of hiding $80 million in payments from Nissan.

The Japanese government is yet to issue any official statement on his escape.

Carlos Ghosn in Beirut, Lebanon house

Lebanese police officers are seen at the entrance to the garage of what is believed to be former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn’s house in Beirut, Lebanon December 31, 2019.
REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Japan’s public broadcaster NHK also reported that Ghosn had access to a second passport on Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

“The court allowed Ghosn to carry one of the two French passports with him in a locked case,” NHK said.

Ghosn was banned from traveling abroad as part of his $13 million bail agreement. That bail agreement has now been revoked in light of his escape, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Carlos Ghosn home Beirut

Passers-by and Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) officers pictured outside the house of Carlos Ghosn in Ashrafieh on December 31, 2019 in Beirut, Lebanon.
Jacob Russell/Getty Images

Ghosn is said to have used a private jet to flee from Kansai Airport in western Japan to Istanbul on Sunday at 11 p.m. local time. He then travelled by a second plane to Beirut, Reuters reported, using his French passport at customs.

Ghosn concealed himself inside a musical instrument case during the escape, Lebanon’s MTV news reported, though Ghosn’s wife Carole has described that detail as “fiction.”

Ghosn said in a statement carried by AFP on Thursday that he “will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system.”

FILE PHOTO: Former Nissan Motor Chariman Carlos Ghosn leaves the Tokyo Detention House in Tokyo, Japan April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn leaves the Tokyo Detention House in April 2019.

“I am now in Lebanon… I have not fled justice — I have escaped injustice and political persecution,” the statement said.

Citing unnamed sources, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the escape “followed weeks of planning by associates,” including “accomplices in Japan.”

Japanese prosecutors raided Ghosn’s home in Japan on Thursday following his escape.

The Lebanese General Security Directorate said in a statement that it will not prosecute him for coming to the country.

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