Carlos Ghosn, the former head of Nissan Motor Co. and Renault, on Monday evening fled Japan, where he faces up to 15 years in prison for four charges involving alleged financial misconduct, the French newspaper Les Echos reports. “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, 65, said in a statement to The New York Times. “I have not fled justice—I have escaped injustice and political persecution,” he added in the statement.
Ghosn’s house arrest order permitted him to leave his residence on the condition of being surveilled by the police, prosecutors, and a private detective, according to the Financial Times. However, he was required to surrender his passport and stay in Japan pending trial in April 2020. It’s unclear how he was able to travel to Lebanon, a country where he is legally protected from extradition. One person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that Ghosn, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, is “tired of being an industrial political hostage.” The former chairman was arrested in Tokyo in November of last year and subsequently spent more than four months in jail. Ghosn has been accused of transferring $5 million of Nissan funds to a private account in his own interest and failing to report more than $80 million in income on the company’s financial statements.