France has issued an international arrest warrant for auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn and four others over potentially suspicious payments. The payments are said to have been made between the Renault-Nissan alliance that Ghosn once headed, said prosecutors in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.
The other four suspects are assumed to be the current owners or former directors of the Omani company, Suhail Bahwan Automobiles (SBA).
The arrest warrants were issued on grounds of dubious financial transactions of approximately 15 million euros ($16.3 million) with 'Renault-Nissan's distributor in Oman, payments by a Dutch subsidiary to consultants and lavish parties organized at the Versailles Palace,' the Guardian reported.
Ghosn has previously faced charges of financial misconduct when he was the chief of Nissan as well as the head of an alliance between Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors. He was detained in Japan in November 2018 along with his right-hand man, Greg Kelly. While he awaiting trial in December 2021, he pulled off a rather bold escape by being smuggled out of Japan in an audio-equipment case on a private jet.
Ghosn arrived in Beirut, a country that does not hold an extradition treaty with Japan. Giving the reason behind his escape he said there was no assurance of a proper fair trial in Japan, adding that Nissan conspired with prosecutors to arrest him as he had plans to further develop ties of Nissan and Renault. In Beirut he was also questioned by an investigating magistrate in detail regarding the matter. The former Nissan CEO also holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian passports as well as their citizenships.
The French warrant was "surprising" to him as notified via a statement from his PR team. They deemed the warrant as feeble because Ghosn "is subject to a judicial ban on leaving Lebanese territory" and Lebanon does not extradite its citizens. Heard as a witness once, the disgraced auto tycoon needs to be in France in order to be formally summoned and get a hold of the details of the charges he faces, according to BBC news.
In the meantime, a Tokyo court sentenced his former right-hand man Kelly, to a six-month suspension over claims that he assisted Ghosn in his attempt to conceal income. Prosecutors had sought two years in prison for Kelly, he was found guilty on the charges for the financial year 2017 and not guilty for financial years 2010 to 2016.
Ghosn, even after facing numerous additional financial mismanagement charges, has always emphasized that he and Kelly are innocent and that Japanese prosecutors conspired with Nissan to kick him out in a "palace coup" calling their charges against him as baseless.
Ghosn in an interview with the French Newspaper Le Parisien had stated that he wanted to come back to France but cannot do so "for the moment" due to an Interpol warrant for his arrest. However, he emphasized that in order to clear his name he would stand trial in France as and when he is allowed to do so.