Fallen Lebanese tycoon Carlos Ghosn 'expected' arrest warrant, ready to face French justice
French-Lebanese businessman Carlos Ghosn told French media on Friday he "hopes to return to France" and is eager to clear his name with French authorities, hours after being informed of an international arrest warrant issued by a French judge against him.
"This arrest warrant was expected and now justice can proceed normally," the former chief executive of Renault and former chairman of Nissan told French channel BFM TV on Friday. "I am now ready to defend myself."
Ghosn said the warrant was to be expected as part of the judicial process, since the magistrate cannot summon him to court in France. "I cannot leave Lebanon, since there is a Japanese red notice against me and I do not have a passport," Ghosn pointed out.
Lebanese authorities have been holding Ghosn's passport following his 2019 escape to Lebanon from Japan, where he faced separate financial misconduct allegations.
Nevertheless, "the timing of this warrant is surprising, and the way in which I was informed is also surprising," Ghosn said, implying that the case against him is politically motivated. "I found out about it through media, like the rest of you, when I should have been among the first informed."
A French judge has been investigating suspect money flows between the French car manufacturer Renault and an Omani dealership. French prosecutors believe Ghosn siphoned off millions of dollars worth of funds from Renault through the Omani car distributor, for his personal use.
Ghosn has been fighting multiple probes since his 2019 fall from grace. He escaped Japan to avoid trial on charges that he understated 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.
The former head of the Renault-Nissan alliance holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian passports. Lebanon has no extradition agreement with Japan and a policy of not extraditing its own nationals.