Former head of Nissan and Renault wanted over $22 million of suspect payments.
France has issued an international arrest for Carlos Ghosn, the disgraced former head of Nissan and Renault.
Authorities have issued the warrant against Ghosn and four other individuals over €15 million (AUD$22.4m) in potentially suspect payments linked to a car distributor in Oman.
Speaking to the BBC, Ghosn said he was “surprised” by the news.
As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, a French magistrate investigating the case alleges that Ghosn funnelled Renault funds into Suhail Bahwan Automobiles.
Reports add that he used the money to buy personal items, such as a 120ft yacht.
Ghosn, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian nationalities, can’t be extradited from his home in Beirut, as Lebanon doesn’t have an extradition policy in place with France.
His lawyer, Jean Tamalet at King and Spalding, told the BBC that the arrest warrant is part of an investigation that has been going on for “some time”.
The four other warrants related to current owners and former directors of Suhail Bahwan Automobiles.
Back in 2019, Ghosn fled Japan to Lebanon after being detained on financial-misconduct charges relating to his time running Nissan. At the time, he was being held under house arrest.
As reported, his outlandish escape included being smuggled onto a private plane inside a musical instrument case. Following his escape, he said he took the “huge risk” because he wanted to fight injustice.
Ghosn continued to proclaim his innocence during interviews with media outlets, saying that the charges were brought by Nissan executives in order to stop him from potentially pushing through a full merger with Renault.
He said that they wanted “to put me completely out of the picture; that meant putting me in jail”. He added: “Japan has become nationalistic. There was talk about the ‘re-Japanisation’ of Nissan.”
This was rebutted by Nissan, which back in 2020 told The Sunday Times that it had “carried out a robust and thorough internal investigation that included external lawyers”, uncovering “substantial and convincing evidence” that Ghosn had “intentionally committed serious misconduct”.