The flight of a car-industry megastar shocks Japan

Jan 02, 2020

CARLOS GHOSN, a former chairman of Nissan and Renault, would ring in the new year at his luxurious home in Tokyo. Or so Japanese prosecutors thought until two days before the start of the 2020s. News that Mr Ghosn, 65, had other plans came from an unexpected source: a report by the Associated Press quoting Ricardo Karam, a Lebanese television host and friend of Mr Ghosn. He said the megastar executive had skipped bail and fled to Lebanon. In a statement released a day later through a spokeswoman, Mr Ghosn insisted: “I have not fled justice—I have escaped injustice and political persecution.”

Who ya gonna call? Ghosnbusters!

His dramatic escape has raised big questions for Japan. How did he do it, despite constant surveillance of his movements? And is there any truth to his claims that the charges against him were politically motivated? Before his arrest in Tokyo in November 2018, Mr Ghosn had been rumoured to be working on a merger between Renault, a French carmaker, and its partner Nissan, a Japanese company. This would have offended many in the Japanese establishment, as it would have looked like a foreign takeover of a Japanese industrial icon.

How Mr Ghosn managed to flee was still a mystery as we went to press. Local media in Lebanon said he arrived in Beirut from Turkey on a private jet. Yet...

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