National / Crime & Legal

Ghosn says he will reveal names of Japanese officials behind his arrest

Kyodo, Bloomberg

Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn plans to name those he thinks were behind his 2018 arrest for alleged financial misconduct, including some in the Japanese government, at a news conference on Wednesday, a U.S. broadcaster said Tuesday.

Later the same day, Tokyo prosecutors obtained an arrest warrant for his wife, Carole, for alleged perjury. According to the prosecutors’ special investigation squad, Carole was suspected of having made a false statement during a witness examination at the Tokyo District Court last April.

Carlos Ghosn had been facing trial in Japan on charges of financial misconduct, which he denies, before fleeing Japan late last month for Lebanon.

Ghosn told Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo over the weekend that he has “actual evidence” and documents that will prove there was a plot to “take him out” in response to his plan to merge Nissan with its alliance partner Renault SA, the automaker’s largest shareholder, according to the report.

The broadcaster said he was “really unnerved and upset” that he had failed to recognize the unfairness of the Japanese judicial system and that the “straw that broke the camel’s back” was the fact that he was unable to speak to his wife without permission.

On Tuesday, transport minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said large baggage carried by passengers on private jets will now undergo mandatory inspections after Ghosn fled Japan without going through the proper embarkation procedure.

Akaba said the measure was introduced as of Monday at Haneda, Narita, Chubu and Kansai airports.

Ghosn was reportedly smuggled out in a large box designed for concert equipment, which is too large to fit through airport scanners. While oversized luggage is usually opened by airport security personnel, travelers on private jets are seen as low risk and are therefore not always subjected to inspections.

Japan will seek cooperation from Lebanon in getting to the bottom of Ghosn’s escape, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the same day.

Suga said it was “extremely regrettable” that Ghosn, out on bail awaiting trial, had left Japan “illegally” for the Middle Eastern country. He said Japan has been communicating with Lebanon over the case.

Also on Tuesday, government sources said the Justice Ministry is considering tightening the nation’s bail system, including obliging defendants to wear GPS devices to prevent them from fleeing.

The ministry may ask an expert panel as early as next month to work on specific revisions to related laws, the sources said.

The Tokyo District Court has decided to forfeit bail of ¥1.5 billion Ghosn paid to the court, which will be transferred to state coffers.

The court’s decision, dated Dec. 31, came after it had granted prosecutors’ request for the revocation of Ghosn’s bail.

Nissan Motor Co. said it will take “appropriate legal action” against Ghosn for any harm caused to the company, maintaining its stance of holding him responsible for serious misconduct.

“The consequences of Ghosn’s misconduct have been significant,” the automaker said in a statement Tuesday.

“The internal investigation found incontrovertible evidence of various acts of misconduct by Ghosn, including misstatement of his compensation and misappropriation of the company’s assets for his personal benefit,” the Yokohama-based automaker said. “Nissan will continue to do the right thing by cooperating with judicial and regulatory authorities wherever necessary.”

Japanese investigative sources have said Ghosn traveled to Osaka from Tokyo on a shinkansen on Dec. 29, before flying out of Kansai International Airport in a dramatic escape from what he has said is a “rigged Japanese justice system.”

Security camera footage showed the fugitive leaving his home in the capital’s Minato Ward alone around 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 29, and he arrived at Shinagawa Station with other men around 4:30 p.m. They took a taxi from Shin-Osaka Station to the airport at around 7:30 p.m.

Ghosn, who was arrested more than a year ago, was released on bail in April on conditions that included no travel abroad. He arrived in Lebanon via Turkey on Dec. 30.

The plan to extract Ghosn is believed to have begun months beforehand, and involved about a dozen people, including a former Green Beret, and over 20 trips to Japan, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

According to the Journal, two U.S. security personnel were on board the private jet in Osaka Prefecture — ex-Green Beret Michael Taylor and George Zayek, who had previously worked with Taylor’s security company.

It also said the operatives visited at least 10 airports in Japan before settling on Kansai Airport.

Ghosn himself only decided to undergo his escape last month due to fears that the trial could persist for years, the paper said, adding the escape is believed to have cost millions of dollars.

Lebanon, which has no extradition agreement with Japan, has said Ghosn entered the country legally in possession of a French passport and a Lebanese identification card. Ghosn is a Brazilian, French and Lebanese national.