French investigators question ex-Nissan boss Ghosn in Beirut

French investigators question ex-Nissan boss Ghosn in Beirut
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French investigators on Monday began questioning former Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn over allegations of financial misconduct three years after his initial arrest in Japan. 

The Associated Press reported that Lebanese judicial officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to regulations preventing them from speaking publicly, confirmed that the questioning was taking place at the Palace of Justice in Beirut and is expected to last several days. 

Reuters reported that Ghosn’s defense team is attempting to argue procedural irregularities in the French case, which is being organized by judicial authorities in Lebanon, where the ex-auto executive had fled a year after his 2018 arrest. 

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Ghosn is facing multiple investigations into his financial dealings, with the French probe focused on potential charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering, misuse of company funds and other alleged wrongdoing. 

According to the AP, the French investigation includes a series of parties Ghosn threw at the Versailles chateau while serving as the head of the Renault-Nissan car alliance, as well as money used for private planes and subsidies to an Oman car dealership. 

Ghosn has denied any wrongdoing, telling the AP in an interview last week that he was the victim of a corporate coup attempting to oust him due to a drop in Nissan's financial performance. 

“There has been a lot of collateral damage . . . but I don’t think I’m responsible for that,” he told the AP. 

“The people responsible for that are the people who organized the plot” to remove him, Ghosn said. 

His Lebanse and French lawyers said in a statement Monday that Ghosn’s participation in questioning this week was “voluntary,” adding that their client would be questioned by “French investigating judges, in the context of legal proceedings organized by the Lebanese judicial authorities,” according to the AP. 

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The 67-year-old, who grew up in Lebanon, now teaches a weekly university business course following his 2019 escape from Japan that drew global attention to the former Renault-Nissan CEO and labeled him as an international fugitive. 

Ghosn had been released from Japanese jail, but was ordered to stay within the country until his trial there. 

A person familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal at the time that Ghosn did not think he would get a fair trial if he remained in Japan and that he was “tired of being an industrial political hostage.” 

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in the extradition of two Americans to Japan over allegations that they helped organize Ghosn’s escape.