Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn wipes his face during a news conference at the Lebanese Press Syndicate in Beirut on Wednesday. Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
crime

Seeking justice: The legal risks facing Ghosn

30 Comments
By Richard Lough

Carlos Ghosn said on Wednesday he was the victim of a conspiracy to oust him from the helm of automaker Nissan and escaped from Japan because he could not defend himself against baseless charges of financial misconduct.

Now in his childhood home of Lebanon, Ghosn, one of the world's most recognized corporate leaders, is out of the clutches of Japan's judiciary but is an international fugitive still subject to legal risks.

Here are some of the risks:

HOW SAFE IS GHOSN IN LEBANON?

Interpol has issued an international red notice for Ghosn at Japan's request. Lebanese authorities have said they will take the necessary steps, without spelling out what that would involve.

Lebanon does not have a formal extradition treaty with Japan. While Japan could still lodge an ad hoc request, Lebanon's laws prohibit the extradition of Lebanese nationals to foreign states. Ghosn has Lebanese, French and Brazilian nationality.

Ghosn said he had received no assurances from the public prosecutor, who has summoned Ghosn for questioning on Thursday.

The businessman is feted as a local hero in Lebanon and has links to the upper echelons of power.

"Before political cover, he has Christian cover," said Mohanad Hage Ali, a fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center, noting that Ghosn's ancestry is Maronite, the most powerful of Lebanon's Christian communities. Extraditing a Maronite "would be a very polarizing decision to make."

HOW FREE IS GHOSN TO TRAVEL ABROAD?

The Interpol red notice calls on authorities to arrest a wanted person but does not compel them to do so. Even so, the risk of detention abroad will be higher than if he remains in Lebanon, extradition lawyers said.

"The upshot of that is there are a 194 countries that are members of Interpol and any of them, other than Lebanon and France, could either detain him automatically if he crossed their border or do so relatively quickly if they had some kind of extradition arrangement with Japan," said Nick Vamos of London law firm Peters & Peters, a former head of extradition at Britain's Crown Prosecution Service.

Brazil also refuses to extradite its own citizens.

After being held for half a year in an austere Japanese detention center before spending seven months under stringent bail conditions, which included not being allowed to see his wife, Ghosn said: "I prefer this prison to the one before."

WHAT LEGAL STEPS MAY COME NEXT?

A senior Japanese justice ministry official acknowledged the likelihood of persuading Lebanon to hand Ghosn over was low.

Ghosn could yet face trial in Lebanon if the government there refused an eventual extradition request from Japan and the Lebanese prosecutor determined that the Japanese charges he faced constituted a criminal offense locally.

Tokyo could also try to seize assets belonging to Ghosn, Vamos said.

"I left Japan because I wanted justice. It is the only way to reestablish my reputation. If I don't get it in Japan, I will get it somewhere else," Ghosn told a news briefing.

A source close to Ghosn has said he wanted the charges to be brought against him in a Lebanese court, where his legal team believes it has a stronger chance of winning the case.

"It will be a long process," the source said.

Ghosn's legal team, meanwhile, might argue for the lifting of the Interpol notice, said Michael Drury, Head of Extradition at BCL Solicitors who counts opponents of Turkey's president among his clients.

Ghosn would not be drawn on his next move.

"I am used to what you call 'Mission Impossible,'" he said."You can expect me in the next weeks to take some initiatives."

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

30 Comments
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What is making me think that Ghosn really could be innocent is the screaming manner with which the Japanese government is handling this case.

He is an alleged WHITE COLLAR criminal! ALLEGED! Yet the way the government is responding to this is like he is Carlos the Jackal and Jack-the-Ripper rolled into one sinister international criminal!

The Japanese government got egg on their face, and they collectively are responding like a bunch of spoiled brats!

24 ( +31 / -7 )

One thing I think we can say, Ghosn is not going to be quiet. Will his efforts change things in Japan? That is the big question. I hope the answer is yes!

16 ( +20 / -4 )

Ghosn could yet face trial in Lebanon if the government there refused an eventual extradition request from Japan and the Lebanese prosecutor determined that the Japanese charges he faced constituted a criminal offense locally.

Which of course, won't happen. If the Japanese court had sufficient evidence to make Ghosn lose in court, it would have been tried and found a guilty a long time ago. It is because of the attempt from the prosecutors at forcing a confession from Ghosn due to them lacking evidence that the trial has taken forever to be set up in the first place.

11 ( +17 / -6 )

What is making me think that Ghosn really could be innocent is the screaming manner with which the Japanese government is handling this case.

Exactly! The more hysterical, the more they have something to hide.

The Japanese government got egg on their face, and they collectively are responding like a bunch of spoiled brats!

like a bunch of spoiled brats? they are a bunch of spoiled brats! And Carlos is giving them a well deserved spanking!

10 ( +18 / -8 )

What about the legal risks of some Japanese legal lawyers and prosecutors for going against human rights.

Go to the European court of Justice then International court of justice in La Haye if possible for acts of torture.

Do you think Japan can go against just Brazil, France and Lebanon ?

Trump so far did not want to make red face his Abe buddy but it may happen if really Kelly is under current proven illegal custody.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Can't be a criminal because no crime.

Perhaps wrongdoings but not sure at all it is even illegal.

And reaching the family to get to the accused that is the lowest of the low kind of actions. It is a crime in itself and we all know it.

Confess, confess, confess !

(Game of thrones extract)

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Ghosn has been blaming everyone but himself.

First it was Nissan, then it was Macron, then it was Abe, and then it wasn't and then it was....but always never himself. Sigh, credibility of a rat fleeing in a box.

-17 ( +7 / -24 )

So the take away from this far too long hit piece: No country he is a citizen of will cooperate with the red notice and will not extradite him to Japan.

Game over Japan, move on. You've lost enough face, especially with that joke of a presser.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Sh1mon - obviously you haven't been following the case.

Reading beyond the paper thin walls of Japan Media Inc and their "scoops" will throw a little more light on hte subject.

No one person / institution is perfect, but the system of justice in Japan has let itself open to considerable "blame" in this kabuki performance.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Ghosn has been blaming everyone but himself.

> First it was Nissan, then it was Macron, then it was Abe,

Funny how last night he said Abe wasn't involved, did you actually watch the press conference? I did, from the start to the very end of the Q&A

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2020-01-08/ghosn-doesn-t-think-japan-pm-abe-was-involved-in-arrest-video

Maybe it's a shrewd calculation for Abe to save face and call it all off Japanese style but maybe it's true. I doubt Abe actually has nothing to do with it though, can you imagine being PM and being in the dark over this? Abe has in fact come out and said he would have preferred Nissan to have dealt with it themselves so things may actually be looking up for Mr Ghosn

https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200108/k00/00m/040/302000c.amp

7 ( +11 / -4 )

@Sh1mon M4sada

First it was Nissan, then it was Macron, then it was Abe

Did you watch the news conference? Ghosn very specifically stated he did not think Abe had any involvement whatsoever.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Japan could also put economic pressure on Lebanon; and they might buckle and sacrifice Carlos. This would make Japan look even more like a bully, but I wouldnt put it past them to do it.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

It is obvious that the Japanese Government was complicit in helping Nissan to stop the planned merger by Ghosn. There is no way Ghosn would get a fair trial in Japan.... I say try to find a neutral court outside of Japan and hold a trial there. The key word is "try"... because you know as soon as any location is identified the Japanese Government would quickly apply pressure or "gifts", to the country where the court is located. Ghosn did the right thing in leaving.....

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Ghosn very specifically stated he did not think Abe had any involvement whatsoever.

but he was happy to implicate Abe back in time, that's what I meant by then 'it was' and then 'it wasn't...'

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

If the Japanese are serious about Ghosn, their only chance now is to have a bounty out for Ghosn and his helpers. Ghosn knows as it is, he is virtually free (at least whilst in Lebanon).

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

A UN committee against torture has called Japan’s criminal justice system “medieval”:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/08/carlos-ghosn-nissan-boss-japanese-justice

7 ( +9 / -2 )

He is an alleged WHITE COLLAR criminal! ALLEGED! 

That's 100% the thing. Even if he is guilty, the treatment he has received is ridiculous for the crime he supposedly committed.

But that's the way "Justice" works in this country. Basically they expect you to declare you are guilty, and go for whatever deal the prosecutor offers you, and be done with it. People who claim to be innocent are treated as the worst kind of criminal.

That's how Japan gets it's 99.4% conviction rate.

Because even if there is a chance for you to get an innocent verdict, which is small in the first place, it will take years, and it isn't probably even worth all the time, money, physical and mental health.

The way I see it, Carlos Ghosn broke under the pressure, like many do under this inhumane system, but instead of just going along with what the prosecutors where saying, he choose to escape.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Hardly do you see the Justice Minister commenting on individual cases. It doesn't happen. The usual refrain is "sorry we don't comment on individual cases" but she is out there commenting on Gjosn's presser. Ghosn hit the panic button for Japan and the gov machinery is in panic mode right now. Japan is scared to death someone will haul them before the International Court of Justice in The Hague for human right abuses and the use of torture to extract false confessions. That's why they are in damage control mode right now. How come you fare treat an alleged white collar suspect this way? Japan must grow up.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Ghosn has been blaming everyone but himself

If Ghosn used his own money to fund his 1% lifestyle instead of stealing from Nissan,

he wouldn't be in this position today. Greed and arrogance was his downfall.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

If Ghosn used his own money to fund his 1% lifestyle instead of stealing from Nissan, he wouldn't be in this position today. Greed and arrogance was his downfall.

Even if he did steal money from Nissan, the violations of human rights from part of the Japanese Judiciary are still there, and cannot be justified.

To be honest, with a working justice system, this case should be over, and Ghosn should already have a sentence by now... but he doesn't even got a court date, and he had to live with restricted rights for an unspecified amount of time, even thou he hasn't been found guilty of any crime.

Ghosn could be the worst scumbag of the earth, but his treatment is still unjustified.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Ghosn could be the worst scumbag of the earth, but his treatment is still unjustified.

I agree, Japan needs to improve its justice system. However it was his greed and arrogance that made him stray from his lane as a boring auto executive and instead pretended to be an investment banker gambling in the risky derivative markets and getting caught on margin calls so a lot of this is his own doing. He played with fire and he needs to accept some of the consequences instead of blaming a global conspiracy.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Also the prosecution wouldn't have much ammunition if he had lived a clean and honest life. The fact that he had an Interpol passport meant that even if he is innocent, he still had the mentality of a criminal always looking for an escape.

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

If the Japanese are serious about Ghosn, their only chance now is to have a bounty out for Ghosn and his helpers..

Well if they were to do so, they will cement their reputation as a mafia gangster legal system, do you have any idea what you are saying..

There is only one way for them to save face and show case to the world that they are not foreigner biased, and that would be to arrest Saikawa, Toyoda, Kawaguchi and give them the same treatment as Ghosn, that is the only way establish some credibility..

7 ( +7 / -0 )

There is only one way for them to save face and show case to the world that they are not foreigner biased, and that would be to arrest Saikawa, Toyoda, Kawaguchi and give them the same treatment as Ghosn, that is the only way establish some credibility.."

This is true. Pretty sure Saikawa signed off on some of the documents Ghosn displayed.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The fact that he had an Interpol passport 

No he never had such thing? Where you get this information?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Ghosn has been blaming everyone but himself.

The disgraceful Nissan people in power & Japanese prosecutor have been blaming Ghosn all the way, with disgusting extended detention, not seen anywhere else in the world for such alleged crime. Shame on you all!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Ghosn would not be drawn on his next move.

"I am used to what you call 'Mission Impossible,'" he said. "You can expect me in the next weeks to take some initiatives."

Ghosn is a very smart man! He sorta reminds me of the first Rambo movie! He was picked up by the police under false pretenses, treated horribly by the police until he made a run for it back to his familiar domains where he is a king of his domain. Now, he is regaining his strength to tackle his enemies.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Arrogant, conceited, self centred, egotistical billionaire, hope he gets what's coming.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Arrogant, conceited, self centred, egotistical billionaire, hope he gets what's coming.

Populism is not a good ism my friend.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One very important legal point in Ghosn's favour in the international world is the word "oppression" and we can see the MoJ confirming and continuing the tactic with their comments.

I have a book called "People Who Said No: Courage Against Oppression" The book starts - There are times when breaking the rules is the right thing to do. (I would also say it is essential)

The book lists examples of people who have done so and helped the world. (The book is for K-12 so an easy read)

The White Rose: a young brother and sister defy Hitler's regime in Nazi Germany

Rosa Parks: the woman who boldly challenged segregation in the southern United States

Andrei Sakharov: a Russian scientist helps to create the thermonuclear bomb, then fights against its use and the arms race

http://laurascandiffio.com/people.html

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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