Starting in the late 1990s, Carlos Ghosn was a powerful executive responsible for the turnaround of two famous automobile companies, Renault and Nissan. But in November 2018, his arrest in Japan came as a surprise and at the heels of several serious accusations of financial misconduct. Netflix’s ‘Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn’ focuses on what happened to Carlos in the aftermath. So, if you’re curious about where he might be today, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Carlos Ghosn?
Carlos Ghosn was born in 1954 in Brazil, moving to Lebanon when he was around six; he was raised there and later studied in France. After college, he worked in the automotive industry, spending nearly two decades with Michelin, and then moved to Renault. There, he revitalized the struggling company and was seen as a ruthless enforcer who closed factories and cut jobs, ultimately resulting in the company doing better.
Carlos was also the driving force behind the Renault-Nissan alliance, saving the Japanese automotive manufacturer from potential bankruptcy by doing something similar to what he did with Renault. The collaboration was forged in 1999, and Mitsubishi joined in 2016. At the time of the incident, Carlos held tremendous power within the companies, serving as the Chairman of Renault and Nissan and the head of the alliance.
However, in November 2018, Carlos was taken into custody after landing in Tokyo, Japan. He claimed to have been picked up by a car after arriving in his private jet and was later told there was a problem with his visa. Soon after, Carlos was placed in a Japanese prison cell and accused of serious financial crimes. The authorities in Japan believed that he paid millions to a Nissan distributor in Oman and retained them for personal use.
Furthermore, Nissan accused Carlos of using company money to buy a yacht and houses and pay his family. Moreover, the authorities believed he under-reported his four-year salary by $44 million. Carlos’ legal troubles continued, with the French authorities considering whether he used Renault’s money to throw a party at the Palace of Versailles in France in 2016. In September 2019, he settled with the SEC in the United States regarding non-disclosure of finances, paying a fine of $1 million yet not admitting wrongdoing.
In Japan, Carlos remained under custody for more than 100 days, later claiming that he was placed in a small cell and questioned daily. According to him, the prosecutors tried to force a confession out of him and threatened his family. At the time, he wasn’t allowed to contact his wife either. Carlos eventually received bail but spent a lot of time under house arrest. However, everything changed on December 29, 2019.
Sometime in the afternoon, Carlos left home, visited a hotel, and met two men. They were Michael Taylor, a former US Special Forces member, and George-Antoine Zayek, an associate of Michael’s. The trio then took a train to Osaka, Japan, and checked into a hotel. Thus began the next phase of Carlos’ daring escape from Japan. He was placed in a wooden box and was to be taken to the airport, where a private jet was waiting.
Carlos later said, “When you get in the box, you don’t think about the past, you don’t think about the future, you just think about the moment. You’re not afraid; you don’t have any emotion except the huge concentration on ‘this is your chance, you can’t miss it. If you miss it, you’re going to pay with your life, with the life of a hostage in Japan.'” The two men posed as musicians as they loaded the box onto the jet.
The group made it past the security, and Carlos stated, “The plane was scheduled to take off at 11 PM. The 30 minutes waiting in the box on the plane, waiting for it to take off, was probably the longest wait I’ve ever experienced in my life.” Carlos flew to Turkey before taking another plane to Beirut, Lebanon, where he held a press conference defending his actions.
Where is Carlos Ghosn Today?
Carlos denied all charges against him and said, “I have not fled justice – I have escaped injustice and political persecution. I can now finally communicate freely with the media, and I look forward to starting next week.” He added that Nissan’s senior executives, prosecutors, and some government members caused his downfall and didn’t want a proposed merger between Renault and Nissan to happen. Carlos also criticized the Japanese judicial system, calling it rigged.
In the months after Carlos’ escape, Interpol issued a red notice for his arrest. He has continued to maintain his innocence and claimed that he had proof, adding that executives at Nissan signed off on whatever transactions he made. Carlos remains in Lebanon with his family, and the country does not have an extradition treaty with Japan. In April 2022, France issued an international warrant for his arrest.
Nevertheless, Carlos looked forward to a trial but wanted it to be in Lebanon. He said, “I want to stand trial because that’s the only way I can get rid of the Red Notice, which today forbids me from leaving Lebanon.” In addition, Carlos has published a book about what happened and has a website that publishes updates regarding his case. In August 2020, his house was damaged after an explosion in Beirut, though it was reported that the family was safe.