France issues international arrest warrant for Carlos Ghosn

French prosecutors have issued international arrest warrants for Carlos Ghosn as well as four individuals who say they are linked to a car dealer in Oman, claiming to have helped the fallen auto giant transfer millions of euros from Renault SAAccording to people familiar with the matter.

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The investigating judge has issued five international arrest warrants for Mr. Ghosn, the former president of Nissan Motor and Renault, the current owners or former directors of the Omani Suhail Bahwan Automobiles Company, a car dealer in Oman, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Oman. The Paris suburb of Nanterre told the Wall Street Journal. They alleged that Mr. Ghosn funneled millions of dollars of Renault money through the Omani auto distributor for his personal use, including the purchase of a 120-foot yacht.

Carlos Ghosn, former CEO of Nissan Motor Co., poses for a photo in Beirut, Lebanon. (Tamara Abdelhadi/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Mr. Ghosn escaped a trial for financial misconduct in Japan to Lebanon while hiding in a box of musical equipment.

After his escape, Mr. Ghosn initially welcomed the French investigation, saying he believed in the French judicial system, allowing him to prove his innocence. A spokeswoman for Mr. Ghosn declined to comment on the arrest warrants.

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The latest arrest warrant will not fundamentally change Mr. Ghosn’s personal status. After fleeing Japan, he remains in Lebanon, where he lives as an international fugitive in a house bought by the Japanese automaker. Lebanon does not extradite its citizens – and Mr. Ghosn has citizenship in Lebanon, France and Brazil.

Former Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

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However, the arrest warrants are another legal slap to Mr. Ghosn’s reputation. He has portrayed himself as a victim of the Japanese justice system, which he says is unfair and presumes guilty. Japanese officials say he would have had a fair trial had he stayed in Japan.

Those close to Mr. Ghosn do not rule out his going to France to face trial one day, although they say the matter is complicated by the fact that Lebanon currently holds his passports. It could also mean being away from his wife for an extended period of time. Japanese prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for Carole Ghosn following her husband’s escape.

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People close to Ghosn say she is not a French citizen and could be extradited to Japan if she tries to leave Lebanon. Mr. Ghosn cannot be extradited from France to Japan. As a general rule, France does not extradite its citizens and Mr. Ghosn holds French citizenship.

One of the French arrest warrants targeted Suhail Bahwan, the billionaire whose sprawling group owns the agency in Oman, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Bahwan has a number of relationships with France, where he owns real estate. One of his daughters, Hind Bahwan, is the president of the Omani-French Friendship Association, and was awarded France’s highest medal of honor in 2019.

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The two sources said the other two memoranda targeted two of Mr. Bahwan’s sons, in addition to the former general manager of the Omani agent. Suhail Bahwan Automobiles sells tens of thousands of Renault and Nissan cars annually in the Middle East.

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write to Nick Kostov at [email protected]

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