Prosecutors in Japan have issued an arrest warrant for the wife of Carlos Ghosn for alleged perjury, as Nissan vowed to pursue its former chairman over his “serious misconduct” while head of the carmaker.
Tokyo prosecutors’ special investigation squad said Carole Ghosn – a vocal supporter of her husband during his long detention in Japan – was suspected of making a false statement during testimony to the Tokyo district court last April, according to Kyodo news agency. Details of the allegation were not immediately available.
Carole Ghosn, who was born in Beirut, is thought to have been reunited with her husband last week after he skipped bail and fled to Lebanon on 29 December. He had been freed on bail after agreeing to strict conditions, with prosecutors arguing he posed a flight risk.
The conditions included restrictions on contact with his wife, which was reportedly among the reasons why he decided to jump bail.
Earlier on Tuesday, Nissan described Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan as “extremely regrettable” and vowed to pursue legal action against its former chairman over his “serious misconduct”.
In its first public comment since Ghosn fled Japan, the carmaker said its “robust, thorough internal investigation” had “incontrovertible evidence of various acts of misconduct” by its fugitive former boss.
It added: “The company will continue to take appropriate legal action to hold Ghosn accountable for the harm that his misconduct has caused to Nissan.”
The company said Ghosn’s escape “in violation of his bail conditions is an act that defies Japan’s judicial system. Nissan finds it extremely regrettable.”
Ghosn claimed he had fled, months before he was due to stand trial on financial misconduct charges, because he did not expect to receive a fair trial under Japan’s “rigged” justice system.
The 65-year-old fugitive has consistently denied charges of financial misconduct, claiming he had been the victim of a “coup” by former colleagues opposed to his plans to deepen the alliance between Nissan and the French carmaker Renault.
Nissan said in its statement its internal investigation had determined that Ghosn, who rescued the firm from near-bankruptcy 20 years ago, “was not fit to serve as an executive”, adding that the inquiry had uncovered “incontrovertible evidence of various acts of misconduct by Ghosn, including misstatement of his compensation and misappropriation of the company’s assets for his personal benefit”.
It added: “Ghosn’s flight will not affect Nissan’s basic policy of holding him responsible for the serious misconduct uncovered by the internal investigation.”
The details of his escape remain sketchy, with officials in Japan saying this week they were still investigating how he managed to slip past strict security measures imposed as part of his bail conditions.
Citing people involved in the investigation, Nippon TV reported that Ghosn had boarded a Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo’s Shinagawa station on 29 December.
He got off at a station in western Osaka, arriving about 7.30pm, and took a taxi to a hotel near Kansai airport, the network said. He is thought to have taken a private jet the same day from the airport, bound for Istanbul, where he switched planes and continued to Beirut.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Ghosn was loaded on to the flight from Osaka in a large audio equipment case that was not checked by airport customs staff. The case was later found at the back of the aircraft’s cabin.
The newspaper cited unnamed sources close to the investigation in Turkey as saying holes had been drilled into the bottom of the container so he could breathe.
Ghosn, who holds French, Brazilian and Lebanese citizenship, was able to enter Lebanon on a French passport, according to airport documents seen by Agence France-Presse.
He is expected to offer an account of his escape at a press conference in Beirut on Wednesday.