NEW YORK :
Carlos Ghosn, the former automotive titan who fled criminal charges in Japan, said his wife Carole and other family members played no part in his escape to Lebanon.
“I alone organized my departure," Ghosn said in a brief statement issued through a public relations firm. “My family played no role."
The communique shows Ghosn is itching to give his version of events and shield his family from any legal blowback. He said Tuesday he’s ready to “finally communicate freely with the media" as soon as next week. It’s still a mystery how Ghosn, one of the most recognizable foreigners in Japan, snuck out of the country despite round-the-clock surveillance -- an escape befitting a Hollywood thriller.
French daily Le Monde has reported, citing unidentified sources, that Carole Ghosn organized the flight with the help of her brothers and their contacts in Turkey. In his statement, Ghosn described such reports as false.
Carole Ghosn’s brother, Alain Nahas, dismissed the reports as “nonsense."
“I found out when you found out," Nahas, who runs an automotive parts wholesale company in New Jersey, told Bloomberg News in a phone interview Thursday. “I’m happy about it. It exposes Japan as a country similar to totalitarian regimes. If I were him I would have done the same and you would have done the same."
After making his escape, the former head of Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA released an email Tuesday decrying the “injustice and political persecution" of the Japanese judicial system. The 65-year-old faced charges of financial misconduct and raiding corporate resources for personal gain.
Ghosn has said the charges are false and were trumped up by Nissan executives, Japanese prosecutors and government officials who opposed his plans to more deeply integrate Nissan and Renault.
Theories abound on how Ghosn carried out his getaway. The former executive appears to have reached Lebanon on a private jet operated by a subsidiary of Turkey’s MNG Holding, according to a senior Turkish official with direct knowledge of the matter.
That’s after Ghosn apparently flew to Istanbul on another MNG aircraft on Monday morning, before being transferred between the two airplanes inside a box, the official said, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
According to Japanese broadcaster NHK, a security camera captured Ghosn leaving his Tokyo residence alone around noon on December 29, and police think he may then have joined someone to head for the airport.
Turkish authorities detained seven people, including four pilots, after the country began an investigation into the matter. An operations manager for a private cargo company and two employees of a private ground services firm were also pulled in for questioning, state run news agency Anadolu reported.
The escape to Lebanon, where Ghosn is still regarded by many as a national hero, marked a turn in his fortunes. He has citizenship in Lebanon -- as well as France and Brazil -- and has appeared on postage stamps in the Middle East country. Shortly after his arrest in Tokyo in November 2018, a Beirut billboard proclaimed: “We are all Carlos Ghosn."
Even before Ghosn made the Hollywood-worthy dash, he was thinking about his own biopic, according to the New York Times. On a December day in Tokyo, Ghosn met producer John Lesher -- the man behind the Oscar-winning 2014 film “Birdman" -- to discuss his story and what he saw as his unfair treatment by Japan’s justice system, the newspaper said. The talks didn’t progress far, the New York Times said.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that Lebanon may not be the sanctuary Ghosn believes it to be.
A group of lawyers filed a complaint Thursday with Lebanon’s judiciary alleging that Ghosn’s visits to Israel when he was chairman of Renault and later Nissan broke laws forbidding citizens interacting with Lebanon’s foe, the newspaper reported.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.