Ghosn: From fugitive to Lebanese minister?

The dramatic escape of ex-Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, from Japan to his native Lebanon, topped all headlines in the region ahead of New Year’s Year.

Lebanese journalist Beshara Charbel described it as “James Bondish,” amidst reports that he arrived in Lebanon hidden in a wooden box, carried on a private plane. That story was immediately refuted by his wife, Carole Ghoasn, who described it as “fiction.”

The drama was only matched by yet another story, however, predicting that Ghosn might be appointed cabinet minister in the government of prime minister-designate Hassan Diab. Ghosn is out of jail on-bail awaiting trial in Japan for tax evasion and financial misconduct.

If he gets Lebanese government immunity, that would prevent his extradition to Tokyo.

Carlos Ghosn joins ranks of big-time white-collar fugitives
Last month, Diab was tasked with forming a cabinet of technocrats, where ministers are appointed for their professional merit, rather than political affiliations.

“He is seriously being considered for the Ministry of Interior,” said Fadi Walid Akoum, a prominent Lebanese analyst.

Speaking to Gulf News, he added: “Given that he faces accusations of corruption, then he will be automatically rejected by the Lebanese street, which revolted against corruption last October.”

Adding credit to the rumors was an invitation Ghosn got to Baabda Palace shortly after landing in Beirut, where he met with President Michel Aoun.

On Thursday the presidency denied that the two men had met, but Ghosn is scheduled to address the media next week.

Ghosn will be holding a press conference in Beirut on January 8, explaining how he got to Lebanon and whether or not he is going to join any forthcoming government.

Arrests in Turkey

Meanwhile, seven people were arrested in Turkey over aiding ex-Nisan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan to Lebanon, according to security sources on Thursday.

Police squads arrested the suspects; four pilots, two employees for a private ground service company and one operations director for a courier company, the sources said.

The arrest came after Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into Ghosn’s escape to Lebanon via Istanbul Airport, after skipping bail in Japan.