Carlos Ghosn to be Flambéd by the French
Carlos Ghosn, Renault-Nissan’s former head honcho, will be questioned by investigators in Beirut next month, according to a report from Reuters that appeared in Autoblog. This time it’s not the Japanese applying the pressure, it’s the French.
In a saga that captivated an audience worldwide, the former auto executive, a Lebanese, Brazilian, and French national, was smuggled out of Japan in a musician’s road case by a covert operations professional. A plot you’d find in one of the late John Le Carré’s novels, Ghosn is seen as a cult hero in Lebanon, and has been granted protection by the government.
A team of French investigators will come to Beirut next month to grill Ghosn, a Lebanese justice ministry official said, although no specific date or details of what information the investigators would seek from Ghosn was provided.
In addition Japanese trial he managed to avoid, the 66-year-old Ghosn is experiencing legal challenges in France, including tax evasion, money laundering, fraud, and misuse of company assets while atop the Renault-Nissan alliance.
The Lebanese official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the French investigators would be working alongside their Lebanese counterparts. Information about investigations is supposedly hush-hush under French law, and French judicial officials did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters.
Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, misuse of company assets for personal gains, and violating securities laws by not fully disclosing his compensation. He denied wrongdoing and fled Japan while out on bail awaiting trial. Extradition to Japan is unlikely because Lebanon regards Ghosn as a shining example of business acumen, even once using his likeness on a postage stamp.
Investigations previously opened in France centered on transactions between Renault and a distributor in Oman, payments for private trips and events paid by Renault-Nissan’s Netherlands-based holding company to SBA, a car dealership in Oman, and misuse of company funds for a party for Ghosn at Versailles.
Ghosn’s lawyers have said the payments to SBA were bonuses for having boosted car sales in the Persian Gulf and denied allegations that the funds benefited Ghosn or his family personally. Renault said an internal audit found 11 million euros in questionable expenses at RNBV allegedly linked to Ghosn, including for air travel, personal spending, and donations to nonprofit organizations. Ah, the tales of the rich and infamous continue.
[Images: ©2020 J. Sakurai/TTAC]