Nissan will still pursue legal action against former chairman Carlos Ghosn despite his “regrettable” escape from Japan to Lebanon.
- Carlos Ghosn absconded from Japan by boarding a private jet hidden inside a case for musical equipment
- The former Nissan chief faces charges of financial misconduct in Japan
- A warrant for his wife Carole’s arrest has been issued, with officials saying anyone caught helping a fugitive escape would face consequences
The Japanese automaker said in a statement that Mr Ghosn engaged in “serious misconduct” while leading the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance.
“The company will continue to take appropriate legal action to hold Ghosn accountable for the harm that his misconduct has caused to Nissan,” it said, without giving details.
Meanwhile, Tokyo prosecutors have also issued an arrest warrant for Mr Ghosn’s wife Carole on suspicion of perjury.
Details on the allegations against Ms Ghosn were not immediately available, but Japanese officials have said anyone caught helping a fugitive escape would face legal consequences.
Ms Ghosn was banned from meeting with her husband while he was out on bail because she was seen as someone who might help his escape.
Investigation into how escape happened
Japan’s chief government spokesman told reporters that the government had informed Lebanon that Mr Ghosn left the country illegally and it sought cooperation in finding out what happened.
Japanese news reports on Tuesday gave new details of the escape, saying he left his residence alone, met two men at a Tokyo hotel and then took a bullet train to Osaka before boarding a private jet hidden inside a case for musical equipment.
Prosecutors are investigating why the cargo was not inspected before it was loaded, the broadcaster NHK and financial newspaper Nikkei said, citing unnamed sources.
The jet used, made by Canada’s Bombardier, is designed to allow easy access between its passenger and cargo compartments.
The Nikkei report said dozens of people in various countries helped to plan his clandestine departure.
Japan and Lebanon do not have an extradition treaty.
Experts said it would be difficult to bring Mr Ghosn back to stand trial in Tokyo, while chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said the situation had to be handled carefully.
The foreign ministry said the Japanese ambassador planned to meet with Lebanese President Michel Aoun later on Tuesday (local time).
Mr Ghosn faces charges of financial misconduct. He managed to skip bail and leave the country despite heavy surveillance while he was staying at a home in Tokyo.
Nissan’s statement was the first word from the company since Mr Ghosn’s flight last week.
Ghosn maintains his innocence
The automaker and Japanese prosecutors allege Mr Ghosn misstated his future compensation and diverted company assets for personal gain. He says he is innocent.
Mr Ghosn has not appeared in public since arriving in Lebanon. He is expected to give his side of the story in a news conference planned for Wednesday in Beirut.
Earlier, he said the allegations against him were concocted by Nissan, Japanese authorities and others who wanted to block efforts toward a fuller merger between Nissan and its French alliance partner Renault SA.
Mr Ghosn said in a statement last week that he wanted to escape “injustice”.
Critics of the Japanese judicial system said his case exemplified its tendency to move too slowly and keep suspects in detention for too long.
Nissan said in its statement that an investigation was ongoing in France, and the US Securities and Exchange Commission had found some wrongdoing.
Mr Ghosn has not been charged in France or the US.
The scandal over Mr Ghosn’s case has tarnished Nissan’s image and created a leadership vacuum at a time when the automaker’s profits and sales are tumbling.
Mr Ghosn’s successor Hiroto Saikawa also resigned last year amid financial misconduct allegations related to questionable income.
“Nissan will continue to do the right thing by cooperating with judicial and regulatory authorities wherever necessary,” the Yokohama-based company said.
Although Mr Ghosn is unlikely to face trial in Japan, Greg Kelly, another Nissan former executive, is still facing charges of under-reporting Mr Ghosn’s future compensation.
Mr Kelly, an American, who is out on bail and maintains he is innocent, has not been charged with the breach of trust allegations Mr Ghosn is also facing.
Nissan has also been charged as a corporate entity. The company says it will not fight the charges and will pay the required fines.