BEIRUT — Another twist in the Carlos Ghosn saga. On Monday, Sept. 18, the Central Bureau of Judicial Police in Beirut held a hearing following a complaint filed four months earlier by the former Renault-Nissan chairman against the Japanese automotive giant.
However, the hearing ended up being postponed to an unknown date, as confirmed by Ghosn's defense team, which includes both French and Lebanese lawyers, in a statement sent to L'Orient-Le Jour.
"Nissan and the accused executives chose not to attend or be represented at this hearing, despite receiving the summons over two months ago," a scathing statement from Ghosn's legal team said, denouncing a "disregard for justice" on the part of Nissan's leadership.
This is an opportunity to review all the legal proceedings initiated against the Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian automotive magnate and those he has filed. What follows is a retrospective but non-exhaustive chronology:
September 2023: A missed appointment
The hearing held on Monday concerns a complaint filed by Ghosn against Nissan and 12 individuals. His lawyers have outlined a multitude of charges, including "criminal association, manufacturing of evidence, false testimony, home invasion, theft, concealment of documents, breach of confidentiality, defamation and disparagement."
Nissan's legal team had not, at the time of publication, responded to attempts to reach them for comment. Meanwhile, Ghosn's defense team "deplores" Nissan's absence from the hearing, stating that it goes against the interests of the company's shareholders and employees. The case is ongoing.
May 2023: A billion-dollar lawsuit
Exactly four months earlier, on May 18, Ghosn filed a complaint with the Court of Cassation in Lebanon against Nissan and some of its employees. He is seeking $1 billion in damages, according to a judicial source cited by AFP. In summary, Ghosn accuses Nissan of "fabricating" the accusations that led to his arrest in Japan in November 2018 and his subsequent house arrest.
April 2023: Second French arrest warrant
In April 2023, a French investigating magistrate issued an international arrest warrant against the 69-year-old Ghosn. The reason for this warrant is Ghosn's failure to appear when he was summoned for questioning in May 2022 regarding suspicions of corruption in relation to contracts made by a Renault-Nissan subsidiary during Ghosn's tenure as CEO. As Lebanon does not extradite its citizens, Ghosn cannot respond to summons or be indicted.
May 2022: Interpol red notice sent to Lebanon
Based on an international arrest warrant issued by French authorities against Carlos Ghosn a month earlier, Lebanon received a red notice from Interpol. This marked the second red notice, with the first one issued after Ghosn's dramatic escape from Japan in 2019.
April 2022: First French arrest warrant
A magistrate in Nanterre, a suburb of Paris, issued an arrest warrant on April 22, 2022, against Carlos Ghosn. This warrant was related to a judicial inquiry opened for alleged embezzlement and money laundering in an organized gang, connected to the Omani distributor Suhail Bahwan Automobiles (SBA). Suhail Bahwan is the billionaire owner of the Nissan dealership in Oman.
In exchange for regular payments made by Renault and Nissan to SBA, Bahwan allegedly transferred significant sums to Ghosn's accounts through around 40 shell companies. These funds were considered kickbacks by the Japanese justice system, but Ghosn contends they were payments for consulting services provided to the Omani billionaire.
February-March 2022: Visit by 'relentless' magistrates
French judges traveled to Beirut to question Ghosn in late February and early March. After this visit, Ghosn said, "There is a relentless pursuit by investigating judges in France." He added, "I want to be tried in Lebanon."
January 2020: The first Interpol notice
In January 2020, less than a month after Ghosn's escape from Japan, Interpol issued a red notice against him. The Japanese judiciary had issued an arrest warrant for him on charges of financial misconduct.
December 2019: The fugitive's getaway
This episode remains etched in memory. Hidden inside a musical instrument case aboard a private jet, Ghosn fled Japan. He arrived in Beirut on Dec. 30, 2019, stating, "I am now in Lebanon. I am no longer the hostage of a biased Japanese judicial system where the presumption of guilt prevails, discrimination is widespread, and human rights are violated."
The automotive magnate had been arrested for the first time on Nov. 19, 2018, in Tokyo. Based on a report, Nissan claimed that Ghosn "had declared lower income than the actual amount" for many years and severed ties with its own chairman.