Life on the Run for Ex-Nissan Boss Carlos Ghosn

Details are clearer of how Carlos Ghosn, the former chief executive of Nissan and Renault, was able to escape from the clutches of the “rigged” Japanese justice system to Lebanon. Yet questions arise — not least in Ghosn’s mind — as to whether he will ever feel confident about being able to travel legally again. While he is no doubt delighted to be with his family, it is likely that before too long Ghosn will be itching to travel once more for business or personal reasons. Life as a fugitive, even living in luxury, can quickly pall.

In fact, life on the run is proving expensive for Carlos Ghosn. The cost of his escape included $14 million in forfeited bail money while the operation that saw him celebrate New Year’s Eve in Beirut could have cost $15 million or more. This includes a private jet worth $350,000 that spirited the former auto executive from Osaka to Istanbul and millions of dollars for his multi-country extraction that would have taken a team of as many as 25 people half a year to plan, according to a private security expert.

Such massive cash outflows have seen Ghosn’s fortune shrink by 40% since he was arrested more than a year ago at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, according to estimates by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His fortune is now calculated to be about $70 million, down from around $120 million at the time of his first court appearance a year ago.

Meanwhile, Ghosn has been vehemently denying the allegations raised against him and has claimed this to be a major conspiracy aimed to topple him. French investigations examining the possible misuse by Ghosn of Renault’s money to host lavish parties and pay consulting fees are at a preliminary stage. The former auto executive was already hit with a $1 million penalty as part of a September settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to disclose the retirement payments. At his press conference, Ghosn claimed he had done nothing untoward in hosting an event at the Palace of Versailles. Regarding the SEC fine, Ghosn’s lawyers said previously, “We are pleased to have resolved this matter in the U.S. with no findings or admission of wrongdoing."

Authorities may be looking to seize some of his assets. In Switzerland, where Ghosn reportedly banks with Julius Baer Group Ltd., Swiss authorities received a legal-aid request from the Tokyo District Attorney’s Office a year ago, a spokeswoman for the agency that received the notice said. Lebanese prosecutors issued a travel ban for Ghosn and asked him to hand in his French passport after the notice was issued, the Associated Press reported.

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