Ghosn gives witness testimony to French investigators

Ghosn gives witness testimony to French investigators
2 min read
Carlos Ghosn spoke before French judicial investigators in Beirut ahead of further questioning next week.
Carlos Ghosn is being investigated [Getty]

French judicial investigators heard fugitive ex-auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn as a witness Wednesday in Beirut ahead of further questioning next week, two sources said.

"Six French judges, including public prosecutors and investigative judges, started listening to Ghosn's witness testimony at 11:00 a.m. (0800 GMT)," a Lebanese judicial source told AFP.

A French source close to the case said the ex-Renault chief is being questioned as a "simple witness" over accusations that Renault cheated on pollution tests for diesel and petrol engines with the knowledge of top management.

The investigation opened in France in 2015 as part of the "dieselgate" scandal also involving Volkswagen, Fiat Chrysler and French peer PSA. 

The hearing comes before French magistrates on Monday officially question Ghosn, who holds Lebanese, French and Brazilian citizenship, over other judicial inquiries lodged against him in France.

French prosecutors are looking into whether he wrongly obtained use of the Palace of Versailles for his lavish 2016 wedding.

Ghosn is also being investigated by France's tax fraud office over suspicious financial transactions between Renault and its distributor in the Gulf state of Oman, as well as over contracts signed by Renault-Nissan's Dutch subsidiary RNBV.

Ghosn was supposed to meet French judicial investigators in Beirut in January but the meetings were postponed because of travel restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The former tycoon was arrested in Japan in November 2018 on financial misconduct allegations and spent 130 days in detention before jumping bail and smuggling himself out of the country in late 2019. 

Wanted by Interpol, Ghosn is effectively trapped in Lebanon, even as others face court over their links to his case.

Japan has urged him to return and face trial, while Lebanon has asked Japan to hand over his file on financial misconduct charges.

Ghosn is currently beyond the reach of the Japanese courts and leads a comparatively quiet life, mostly in his Beirut home. 

He recently released a book setting out his side of his case.