Ghosn’s lawyers say client happy after days of questioning in France
Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has answered hundreds of questions from French investigators over the past week in Beirut and is “happy and satisfied” to have had the opportunity to speak out on charges of financial misconduct, his lawyers said.
The four and a half days of interrogation marked the first opportunity for Ghosn, a French national, to defend himself against French allegations – including spending on lavish parties and private planes – since his bombing arrest in 2018 at the Japan and his flight to Lebanon a year later.
However, as Ghosn was being questioned outside French soil, it was unclear how he might, if at all, be the subject of preliminary charges. His lawyers have said they will now seek the right to ask for witnesses and expert evidence in the French investigation.
Earlier, the fugitive auto mogul told The Associated Press he had done nothing wrong and hopes the investigations will ultimately be dropped. He did not speak to reporters throughout the interrogation in Beirut, which began on Monday.
It is unusual for French magistrates to question a suspect abroad. Ghosn, who received refuge from the Lebanese authorities, grew up in Lebanon and also has Lebanese nationality. Lebanon will not extradite him. He was born in Brazil.
Ghosn was asked about the financing of the parties he organized at the Palace of Versailles at the head of the Renault-Nissan automotive alliance. French investigators, in cooperation with Lebanese judicial authorities, were also examining € 11 million in spending on private planes and events organized by a Dutch holding company, as well as subsidies to a car dealership in Oman.
“It was an opportunity for him to explain his positions,” said Jean Yves Le Borgne, member of the Ghosn ‘defense team. “It has now happened and he is satisfied and happy.”
“Still pending, of course, the issue of the next step in this procedure,” added Le Borgne.
Ghosn has not yet been charged with anything in France, but could be, given preliminary charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering, misuse of company property or misuse of confidence worsened.
Whether or not Ghosn can be indicted by the French, Carlos Abou Jaoude, his Beirut-based lawyer, said Lebanese and French authorities must determine what Ghosn’s “status” would be.
Ghosn is campaigning to clear his name against multiple legal challenges in France after Japanese charges sparked scrutiny of his activities there.
He was arrested in Japan in November 2018 on charges of financial misconduct and has been held in solitary confinement for months without being allowed to speak with his wife. He fled to Lebanon a year later in a dramatic escape that stunned the world.
Meanwhile, several associates are in jail or on trial in Japan and Turkey, in cases related to his financial activities or his escape.