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French investigators question Carlos Ghosn in Lebanon

French investigators question Carlos Ghosn in Lebanon

BEIRUT – A team of French investigators will come to Beirut next month to take part in the questioning of the former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn An official at the Lebanese Ministry of Justice said Saturday.

The official did not give an exact date or details of what information investigators would request from Ghosn.

the previous automatic The CEO of Ghosn, who is Lebanese, Brazilian and French, fled Japan in a dramatic escape that made headlines last year, and arrived in Lebanon on December 30, 2019.

In addition to his trial in Japan, the 66-year-old businessman faces a number of legal challenges in France, including tax evasion, alleged money laundering, fraud and misuse of company assets while assuming the presidency of the Renault-Nissan alliance.

Carlos Ghosn, former CEO of Nissan Motor Company, poses for a photo in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 (Tamara Abdul Hadi / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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The Lebanese official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the regulations, said that the French investigators would work alongside their Lebanese counterparts.

Information about the investigations is classified under French law, and French judicial officials did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday on the report.

After driving Japan’s Nissan for two decades, Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, misuse of company assets for personal gain and violating securities laws by not disclosing his full compensation. He denied wrongdoing and fled Japan while on bail pending trial. It is unlikely that he will be extradited from Lebanon, where it has been since last year.

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At least two investigations related to Ghosn have been opened in France. One of them focused on suspicious transactions between Renault and a distributor in Oman, as well as suspicious payments for trips and special events paid by RNBV Holdings, based in the Netherlands.

In this January 10, 2020 photo, former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn speaks to Japanese media during an interview in Beirut, Lebanon. (Meika Fujio / Kyodo News via AP, File)

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Another investigation focused on the suspected misuse of company funds at Ghosn’s party in Versailles.

The French investigation aims to determine who was responsible for the series of alleged financial violations between 2009 and 2020.

This includes the « suspicious financial flows » between Renault and the SBA car dealership in Oman. This aspect of the investigation targets several million euros in travel and other costs paid by Netherlands-based Renault-Nissan, which owns the RNBV but is suspected to have been for Ghosn’s personal use.

Ghosn’s French lawyers said the payments they received to the SBA were « justifiable bonuses » because they boosted car sales in the Persian Gulf and denied allegations that the money personally benefited Ghosn or his family.

Renault said last year that an internal audit with Nissan found 11 million euros in questionable RNBV expenses allegedly linked to Ghosn, including air travel, personal spending and donations to nonprofits.

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