Ghosn vows to clear name at first appearance since fleeing Japan

Updated: Jan 10, 2020, 10:45 IST | Agencies |

Ghosn said he was "presumed guilty" and had "no choice" but to jump bail. He said he had been "ripped" from friends and family when arrested.

Carlos Ghosn
Carlos Ghosn

Beirut: Fugitive auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn on Wednesday vowed to clear his name as he made his first public appearance at a news conference in Beirut since skipping bail in Japan. The former Renault-Nissan boss addressed a large crowd of journalists on his reasons for dodging trial in Japan.

Ghosn, who denies any wrongdoing, fled charges of financial misconduct including allegedly under-reporting his compensation to the tune of $85 million.

Ghosn said he was "presumed guilty" and had "no choice" but to jump bail. He said he had been "ripped" from friends and family when arrested.

The 65-year-old businessman, once a giant of the car industry, arrived in his native Lebanon almost two weeks ago, in the latest shock twist to a gripping saga. Ghosn's bail jump has prompted outrage from the Japanese government, which has called his escape "unjustifiable", as well as from Japanese automaker Nissan which labelled the getaway "extremely regrettable".

Many were hoping Ghosn would disclose details of his audacious flight from Japan to Beirut via Istanbul - a dramatic twist in a story worthy of a Hollywood plot. But Ghosn told reporters he was "not here to talk" about how he fled Japan. He said the charges against him stem from a "coup" inside Nissan by disgruntled executives and Japanese officials who feared his plans to more closely integrate the car giant with its alliance partner, French firm Renault. Nissan has continued to insist it has "incontrovertible evidence of various acts of misconduct by Ghosn".

But his legal team in France hit back at those remarks just hours before Ghosn was due to speak.

The carmaker's claims that it has conducted a thorough investigation into its former boss is a "gross perversion of the truth." The probe was "initiated for the specific, pre-determined purpose of taking down Carlos Ghosn," said the lawyers.

Lebanon bans Ghosn from foreign travel

Lebanon banned Carlos Ghosn from travelling after questioning him over an Interpol red notice. "The state prosecution issued a travel ban for Ghosn, and asked for his file from the Japanese authorities. He has been banned from travelling until his judicial file arrives from Japan," a judicial source told AFP.

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