CAIRO – Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, who was awaiting trial in Japan on charges of financial misconduct, arrived in Beirut late Monday aboard a private plane that took off from Turkey, Lebanese daily Al Joumhouria reported.
The item on the newspaper’s website offered no additional information.
Ghosn, 65, was born in Brazil to the son of a Lebanese immigrant and he spent a large portion of his formative years in Brazil. The veteran auto industry executive has Lebanese, Brazilian and French citizenship.
He was arrested in Japan in November 2018, accused of failing to report all of his compensation and other financial offenses. Ghosn, who insists he is innocent, spent four months behind bars before being released on bail subject to house arrest.
Prosecutors say they suspect Ghosn understated his compensation by as much as $44 million.
His trial was scheduled to start in April.
Asked about the reports that Ghosn had fled to Lebanon, the office of Japan’s public prosecutor told NHK television that efforts were under way to confirm the defendant’s whereabouts.
“I am reviewing the data,” an official said, speaking to the network on condition of anonymity.
NHK also reached out to a former member of Ghosn’s Japanese legal team, who likewise pleaded ignorance and said that he would try to confirm the reports from Beirut.
At the time of his arrest, Ghosn was chairman of Nissan Motor Co., CEO of Renault SA, and chairman/CEO of the alliance between the two automakers.
The alliance began in 1999, when Renault came to the aid of then-struggling Nissan, and the French company has retained the upper hand despite selling fewer vehicles than its Japanese partner.
Nissan pulled out of its slump
With Ghosn at the helm, Nissan pulled out of its slump to become a competitive player in the global auto industry.
Ghosn contends that the charges against him in Japan are the result of a conspiracy involving Nissan executives and Japanese government officials seeking to forestall closer relations between Nissan and Renault.