Jan 3, 2020

Wanted: The fugitive CEO

Carlos Goshn pictured in a car.
Carlos Ghosn was under house arrest in Japan before fleeing to Lebanon last weekend. Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images

When Carlos Ghosn simultaneously ran Nissan and Renault, he skipped freely across the globe, racking up 150,000 flying miles a year. But he probably never made a trip like the one he took the night before New Year's Eve.

Catch up fast: The former CEO of Nissan and Renault somehow eluded 24-hour surveillance in Japan, where he is facing trial on financial misconduct charges, and turned up in Lebanon, saying he had escaped the "rigged Japanese justice system."

  • "I have not fled justice. I have escaped injustice and political persecution," Ghosn said in a statement.

Everything about this story is incredible, but perhaps no detail more intriguing than his alleged getaway vehicle: a large musical instrument case.

  • Citing TV news reports in Lebanon, the New York Post reported that a group of mercenaries posing as musicians entered Ghosn's Tokyo home, purportedly for a holiday concert, and later departed with the five-foot-six-inch Ghosn hiding inside a box, perhaps a six-foot-tall double-base case.
  • Worthy of a movie scene, those reports haven't been corroborated by Axios or other media, and the circumstances of his arrival in Lebanon remain shrouded in mystery.
  • Investigations are underway in Japan and Turkey, where the private plane he took from Tokyo stopped before he arrived in Beirut.
  • Seven airport staff and pilots were being questioned in Istanbul, per the FT, and Interpol issued a red notice — a Wanted poster, essentially — seeking Ghosn's arrest in Lebanon.

Ghosn's escape followed months of planning by associates, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

  • But Ghosn, countering rumors, insisted his wife, Carole, was not involved.
  • "I alone organized my departure," the 65-year-old said. "My family had no role whatsoever."

What to watch: Ghosn, who maintains his innocence, is planning a news conference for Wednesday. He's unlikely to reveal details behind his escape, but he will most certainly unleash pent-up anger against Japanese prosecutors and his corporate rivals at Nissan and Renault. Talk about must-see TV.

Go deeper... Former Nissan head Carlos Ghosn: I fled Japan to Lebanon to escape injustice

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