Ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn says he escaped injustice, left Japan

Pedestrians walk past a big screen showing images of former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn in a news program on April 4, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. Ghosn, a veteran of the auto industry, was re-arrested on Thursday for financial misconduct.

Takashi Aoyama | Getty Images

Ousted Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, who was awaiting trial on criminal charges in Japan, on Tuesday confirmed reports that he’s left the country and is in Lebanon.

“I am now in Lebanon and will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied, in flagrant disregard of Japan’s legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold,” Ghosn said in a statement.

“I have not fled justice — I have escaped injustice and political persecution. I can now finally communicate freely with the media, and look forward to starting next week,” he added.

Japan’s Ministry of Justice didn’t immediately reply to CNBC’s request for comment on Ghosn’s statement.

It was not clear how Ghosn was able to leave Japan, where he has been under strict court-imposed restrictions on his movements. Reuters reported that Ghosn’s lawyer said the former Nissan chairman’s behavior was “inexcusable” and that Ghosn had probably violated bail conditions.

All of Ghosn’s three passports were still held by lawyers, according to Reuters.

The former Nissan chairman was ousted and arrested a little over a year ago after Hiroto Saikawa, the Japanese automaker’s chief executive at that time, accused him and another executive of a litany of financial misdeeds.

Saikawa abruptly resigned in September after an internal investigation found that he also allegedly pocketed excess pay. Nissan accused Ghosn and former Director Greg Kelly of concealing more than $327 million in payments to themselves and other executives — $187 million in non-disclosed compensation and $140 million in improper expenditures, according to a five-page summary of Nissan’s internal investigation released in September.

Ghosn, a citizen of France and Lebanon, was subsequently removed from his positions at French automaker Renault and the fragile Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance.

— CNBC’s Dawn Kopecki, Michael Wayland, Ganesh Setty and Riya Bhattacharjee contributed to this report.

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