Carlos Ghosn “surprised” by a French international arrest warrant

Carlos Ghosn, the fugitive former Automotive CEO, points before an interview with Reuters in Beirut, Lebanon, June 14, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

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  • Ghosn has always denied any wrongdoing
  • He fled to Lebanon from Japan in late 2019
  • Ghosn had escaped in a box on a private plane

PARIS (Reuters) – Fugitive ex-car executive Carlos Ghosn was surprised by an international arrest warrant sought by a French judge, a Ghosn spokesman said, a case linked to an investigation into suspected financial flows between Renault. (RENA.PA) Oman agency.

The engineer for the Renault-Nissan car alliance has been locked in several investigations since he fled in late 2019 to Lebanon from Japan, where he faced separate allegations of financial misconduct.

“This is surprising, Ghosn has always cooperated with the French authorities,” a spokesman for Ghosn in France told Reuters in response to a report on the international arrest warrant in the Wall Street Journal.

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The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Nanterre has confirmed that the investigating judge has issued five international arrest warrants against Ghosn and the current owners or former directors of the Omani Suhail Bahwan Automobiles Company, the car distributor in Oman.

Bahwan’s lawyer said his client has officially denied participating in any way in the crimes referred to in the arrest warrant.

“He has already provided evidence of his innocence and is at the full disposal of the French justice system,” Christophe Engren said in a statement.

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The Japanese investigation led to the downfall of the dizzying Carlos Ghosn, who lived a hectic lifestyle with properties in Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Beirut before being held for several months in a Tokyo detention center and under house arrest.

He escaped from Japan hiding in a box on a private plane.

At the time of Ghosn’s escape, he was awaiting trial for accusations that he underestimated his compensation in Nissan’s financial statements by 9.3 billion yen ($85 million) over a decade and enriched himself at his employer’s expense through payments to car dealerships.

Ghosn – who denies wrongdoing in the cases against him – remains in his childhood home, Lebanon, which does not have an extradition agreement with Japan and has a non-extradition policy.

Ghosn holds passports from France, Lebanon and Brazil.

French prosecutors allege that Ghosn diverted millions of dollars in Renault money through the Omani auto distributor for his personal use, including the purchase of a 120-foot yacht.

In early 2020, French prosecutors ramped up their investigation into Ghosn’s dealings with the Omanis and a lavish party he gave at the Palace of Versailles in 2014.

Ghosn told Reuters in an interview last year that he was ready for a protracted process to clear his name with the French authorities. Read more

Ghosn was Chairman of the Board of Directors of two Nissan companies (7201.T) and Mitsubishi (8058.T) and CEO of Renault when he was arrested in Japan in 2018.

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Additional reporting by Tassilo Hamill, John Irish and Sarah Morland; Editing by Sudeep Kar Gupta, Richard Love, Thomas Janowski and Louise Heavens

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Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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