How Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn fled Japan for a life on the lam
Nissan’s disgraced CEO Carlos Ghosn was just another example of how money can get you out of any situation – even a situation where you’ve stolen millions of dollars. Ghosn was facing serious jail time for his theft when he took some desperate measures to flee the country and evade responsibility for his crime.
The CEO of Nissan since 1999, Carlos Ghosn was known as the man who lifted the car company from bankruptcy and made it the number one automaker in Japan. Then in 2018, Ghosn was arrested for using company money to fund his lavish lifestyle. Faced with spending years in prison, Ghosn did the only thing he could do – he used his wealth to be smuggled out of Japan in an instrument case. Here’s how Ghosn pulled it off.
Carlos Ghosn rose through the ranks in the automotive industry to eventually become CEO of Nissan. In this position, Ghosn received acclaim for his cost-cutting methods that allowed Nissan to expand its profits considerably. For his success Ghosn was compensated handsomely, earning $17 million a year plus share options & bonuses.
However, Ghosn’s salary wasn’t enough to keep his expensive tastes satisfied. Ghosn enjoyed jet setting all over the world and it was reported that all of Ghosn’s travel costs were funded by Nissan, including his private family vacations. Ghosn’s four residences, including apartments in Paris, Amsterdam, Tokyo, and houses in Rio de Janeiro & Beirut were also purchased on the company dime.
In November 2018, Japanese police arrested Ghosn as he touched down in a private jet in Japan. Japanese prosecutors alleged that Ghosn had used complicated deferred payment plans to funnel funds to himself, amassing a fortune of over $80 million dollars that came out of Nissan’s pocket.
Nissan immediately removed Ghosn from his position as chairman once the news broke and later Ghosn was fired from the company. Ghosn was forced to spend over two months in a Japanese jail before he was granted bail where he was stripped of his three passports and confined on strict house arrest with no contact other than his wife for four months.
The great escape
Ghosn was determined to get out of Japan and so allegedly paid ex-Green Beret Michael Taylor over $500,000 to extract him from the country. The details of the escape were never fully explained nor the extent of the involvement from Taylor and his son Peter.
On December 29, 2019, Ghosn was smuggled out of his Tokyo apartment in a music case used by a band of Gregorian musicians employed at a party Ghosn’s wife had organized. Ghosn was driven to a hotel and joined two men, presumably Taylor and his son. The three then took a bullet train from Shinagawa to Osaka where they went to Kansai International Airport.
The men then transported a large container in which Ghosn was hidden onto a private jet waiting at the airport. The container was never searched by the customs officials as it was too big to fit in the airport’s x-ray machine. The plane flew Ghosn to Istanbul where he boarded a private jet to Beirut, Lebanon and there he remained.
Life’s not fair
When Japan learned of Ghosn’s escape they sent out a “red notice” through Interpol to apprehend him. However, since Lebanon & Japan have no extradition deal and Ghosn has Lenabese citizenship, nothing has been done by the country’s officials.
Ghosn continues to claim that his escape from Japan was because he had no hope of a fair trial. Ghosn stated that he had “escaped injustice and political persecution”. The former CEO also claimed that he would: “. . . no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied.”