We welcome the new year with shocking and dramatic news in the automotive industry. Former Nissan CEO and the brains behind the whole Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, Carlos Ghosn, has skipped bail in Japan and fled the country.
In a statement, Ghosn said that he" (is) no longer (being) held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied”. To recap, Japanese prosecutors and certain Nissan executives have alleged Ghosn under reporting his salary, which was around $88.7 million. If found guilty, he could face up to 10 years in prison in Japan.
Ghosn has since fled to Lebanon, with various theories as to how he was able to leave the country. The former CEO was specifically ordered to not leave the country before his case goes to court. Doing so would be a violation of the terms given by the Japanese prosecutors.
Presumably Ghosn's three passports had already been seized. Some reports surmise that he and his family hired security contractors to smuggle the embattled former CEO out of Japan. Some have even said that he supposedly escaped by hiding in a box to used for musical instruments.
This sudden turn of events now begs the question: what happens next? It’s no surprise that the Japanese government wants to haul Ghosn back and put him on trial. They also want to charge him with departing the country illegally, which adds up to a laundry list of charges to the former CEO. There is, however, one big hurdle facing the Japanese government: They don’t have an extradition treaty with Lebanon.
That means the Lebanese government can, at their own discretion, choose not to hand over Ghosn to Japanese authorities. Lebanon itself has a lot of matters to deal with locally, and penning an extradition treaty with Japan to turn over one person doesn’t seem to a top priority over at Beirut.
He does admit that he fled the country. In his defense, he said he “ (had) not fled justice -- I have escaped injustice and political persecution”.
Ghosn is looking forward to “speaking freely” to the press next week. With the typically outspoken man kept silent for a year, we are certain he has a lot more to say about his case.