French justice issues international arrest warrant for Carlos Ghosn

The former chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, on January 8, 2020, in Beirut. JOSEPH EID / AFP French justice has issued an international arrest warrant against Carlos Ghosn, former chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance (RNBV), as part of an investigation in Nanterre (Hauts-de- Seine), in particular for abuse of corporate assets and money laundering, said the Nanterre prosecutor’s office on Friday April 22, confirming information from the Wall Street Journal. The Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian businessman, who was to be tried in Tokyo for financial embezzlement, has lived in Beirut since his incredible flight from Japan at the end of 2019. In Nanterre, investigators are interested in nearly 15 million euros in payments considered suspicious between RNBV and the distributor of the French car manufacturer in Oman, Suhail Bahwan Automobiles (SBA). If the arrest warrant is executed, Carlos Ghosn will be directly presented to a Nanterre investigating judge, who will notify him of his indictment. The former boss of Nissan and Renault is beyond the reach of Japanese justice, because Lebanon does not extradite its nationals. “This warrant is very surprising” The Nanterre investigating judge in charge of the investigation issued five international arrest warrants in total: they target, in addition to Carlos Ghosn, “the current owners or former managers of the Omani company SBA “, said the prosecution. “This is not an arrest warrant issued by France, but by the court of Nanterre during an ongoing investigation, more precisely by the parquet floor of Nanterre”, reacted one of the lawyers of Mr. Ghosn, Jean Tamalet, of the King and Spalding firm: “This mandate is very surprising, because the investigating judge and the Nanterre prosecutor know perfectly well that Carlos Ghosn, who has always cooperated with justice, is the subject of a judicial ban on leaving Lebanese territory. During their investigations, the magistrates of Nanterre had already traveled twice to Beirut. In February, they interviewed two witnesses there. In June, they had proceeded, with magistrates from Paris, to the free hearing of Mr. Ghosn for five days, for the investigations aimed at Nanterre and Paris. Contacted, Renault’s lawyer, a civil party in the proceedings, could not be reached on Friday morning. Incredible leak At the end of 2019, Mr. Ghosn was free on bail in Tokyo. He was banned from leaving Japan pending trial for alleged financial wrongdoing while at the helm of Nissan. Mr. Ghosn has always claimed his innocence on this file. On December 29, 2019, after traveling incognito from Tokyo to Osaka by Shinkansen, the Japanese high-speed train, he hid in a large box pierced with small discreet holes to allow him to breathe. Mr. Ghosn had thus escaped checks at Kansai International Airport. Baggage checks were not at the time mandatory for passengers boarding a private jet. In the process, he had joined Beirut via Istanbul aboard private jets rented for the occasion. In February 2020, three people were sentenced to more than four years in prison each by a court in Istanbul, Turkey, in this case: an official of a Turkish jet rental company, as well as two pilots. Mr. Ghosn’s flight did not prevent the opening, in September 2020, of a criminal trial in Tokyo over deferred compensation totaling tens of millions of dollars. He was supposed to touch them later, but this was not mentioned in the group’s stock market reports. Read also Article reserved for our subscribers The well-kept secrets of Carlos Ghosn’s Japanese escape Le Monde with AFP