A staff of French magistrates started questioning former Renault boss Carlos Ghosn in Beirut on Monday over suspicions of economic misconduct, Lebanese judicial officers mentioned.
The assembly marks the primary alternative for the enterprise mogul turned-fugitive to defend himself in opposition to French allegations of economic wrongdoing since his arrest in Japan three years in the past, adopted by his spectacular escape to Lebanon a yr later.
The questioning on the Palace of Justice in Beirut is anticipated to final a number of days. Seven French judges had been participating within the listening to, which was additionally attended by a Lebanese prosecutor.
It’s an uncommon transfer for French magistrates to journey overseas to query a suspect.
French magistrates are investigating the financing of lavish events Ghosn hosted on the Versailles chateau, the place the wealthy and well-known wore interval costumes and drunk copious Champagne.
They’re additionally trying into €11 million in spending on non-public planes and occasions organized by a Dutch holding firm, in addition to subsidies to a automotive dealership in Oman.
Ghosn denies any wrongdoing. He’s looking for to clear his identify in opposition to a number of authorized challenges in France after Japanese accusations triggered scrutiny of his actions there.
While he has not to date been charged with something in France, he may very well be given preliminary prices of fraud, corruption, cash laundering, misuse of firm property, or aggravated breach of belief.
Ghosn instructed the Related Press information company that he hopes the go to by French magistrates to Lebanon shall be his first actual alternative to defend himself.
He additionally mentioned he trusted the French authorized system greater than the Japanese justice he had fled.
Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November 2018 on accusations of economic misconduct and was stored in solitary confinement for months with out being allowed to talk together with his spouse.
He fled to Lebanon a yr later in a Hollywood-style escape that shocked the world.
In the meantime, a number of associates are in jail or on trial in Japan and Turkey, in circumstances associated to his monetary actions or escape.
Ghosn’s Lebanese and French legal professionals mentioned in a press release earlier Monday that the “listening to is a voluntary step taken” by Ghosn.
Ghosn’s defence staff additionally mentioned they’ve “already recognized severe procedural irregularities” within the French dossiers.
The defence staff mentioned “abnormalities, which undermine the judicial course of, are the results of the peculiar strategies of the Japanese investigation” that was the first supply for constructing the French circumstances.
Ghosn, who was given sanctuary by Lebanese authorities, grew up in Lebanon and has Lebanese citizenship. Lebanon won’t extradite him.