Ghosn grilling in Lebanon by French investigators 'fair'

Beirut (AFP) –


A week-long grilling of former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn in Lebanon by French investigators was the first "fair" treatment he received since his arrest in Japan, his lawyers said Friday.

"We consider that the whole process that happened here was fair," Jean Tamalet, one of Ghosn's lawyers, said at the end of a five-day-long interrogation process at Lebanon's Court of Cassation.

Ghosn, 67, faced scrutiny from French investigators centring on alleged improper financial interactions with Renault-Nissan's distributor in Oman, payments by a Dutch subsidiary to consultants and lavish parties organised at the Versailles Palace.

He was heard as a witness and would need to be in France to be formally indicted and gain access to the details of the charges he faces.

Ghosn, who was arrested in Japan in 2018 on suspicion of financial misconduct, gave the French investigators "long and detailed answers to hundreds of questions", Tamalet said.

Previously Ghosn "was never given the opportunity to answer these kind of questions in front of judges," he said without giving further details.

Ghosn has long maintained that he would not have been given a fair trial in Japan.

The hearing in Beirut was an opportunity for Ghosn "to explain his position", said another one of his lawyers, Jean-Yves Le Borgne.

"It is now done and he is satisfied and happy."

The defence team is now hoping for a change in Ghosn's witness status so that he can request witness interviews and trial cancellations, Tamalet said.

Following his arrest in Japan, Ghosn -- who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian passports -- was released on bail with a ban on leaving the country.

But he fled, smuggling himself out of Japan purportedly hidden in an audio equipment case in late 2019.

He faces potential charges in France but fears that leaving Lebanon could land him back in Japan, despite the fact that France does not extradite its citizens.

Tamalet said the part of the case against Ghosn has been "tainted by the mistakes made voluntarily by Japanese authorities".

Wanted by Interpol, Ghosn is effectively trapped in Lebanon, even as others face court in Japan over their alleged links to the case.

Japan has urged him to return and face trial, while Lebanon has asked Japan to hand over his file on financial misconduct charges.