Carlos Ghosn Faces Arrest Warrant in French Probe

French investigators issued international arrest warrants for former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn and four others who allegedly helped him siphon millions of euros from partner Renault SA

Carlos Ghosn, former Nissan chief executive officer, pauses during a news conference at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) in Jounieh, Lebanon, on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020.
By River Davis and Gaspard Sebag
April 23, 2022 | 09:21 AM

Bloomberg — French investigators issued international arrest warrants for former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn and four others who allegedly helped him siphon millions of euros from partner Renault SA.

The warrants were issued on Thursday afternoon, prosecutors from Nanterre, near Paris, said. The one targeting Ghosn concerns a wide spectrum of allegations ranging from his interactions with an Omani car distributor to corporate spending on various events and trips that may have been personal.

Ghosn said the timing for issuing the warrant was “surprising” as it came days away from the French presidential election. Executive compensation has been a hot topic during the campaign.

“What’s happening to me frankly is a tragedy, you have a masquerade of a justice in Japan and what makes me very sad is that in a certain way France has been an accomplice of it,” he said in a Bloomberg TV interview. He said he couldn’t return to France to stand any trial.


Since Ghosn’s dramatic escape from Japan to Lebanon in late 2019, his main legal risks have largely shifted to France, where he is suspected of using Renault’s funds to pay for a yacht and his wife’s birthday celebration at the Versailles Palace. The warrant come after French investigators traveled to Beirut last year to question Ghosn and issued a summons for him to face possible charges in France.

One of the French warrants targets billionaire Suhail Bahwan, who owns a vehicle distributor in Oman that investigators suspect was used to funnel Renault funds for Ghosn’s personal use, Nanterre prosecutors said. The others are against two of Bahwan’s sons and the former general manager of Suhail Bahwan Automobiles.

International arrest warrants are typically issued by French investigators when a suspect living abroad doesn’t respond to a summons. It allows them to work with foreign agencies to make an arrest and commence extradition proceedings.

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Japan also has an arrest warrant for Ghosn over charges of financial misconduct, but the former auto titan is a Lebanese national and the country does not extradite its own citizens. He also has citizenship in France and Brazil.

While Ghosn escaped trial in Japan, former Nissan Director Greg Kelly was convicted in March of helping his ex-boss under report compensation in 2017. The two auto executives were arrested in Tokyo on the same day in November 2018.

“Carlos Ghosn has always cooperated with French judicial officials,” Jean Tamalet, his lawyer, said by phone. Ghosn has previously denied the French allegations.

An attorney for Bahwan didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The Wall Street Journal reported the warrants earlier on Friday.

French Charges

Paradoxically, Ghosn was in favor of being charged in the French investigation but legal complexities prevented that from taking place in Lebanon. An arrest warrant prevents him from having an input whereas charges would have given him a status. That would have allowed his defense team to access evidence, lodge procedural challenges and petition for certain witnesses to be heard.

Contrary to Japan, Ghosn could be ordered to face trial in France. When asked whether he might attend French court proceedings, Ghosn suggested that any trial would likely take place in his absence.

“I have no passport, I am forbidden to leave Lebanon,” he told Bloomberg TV. “People ask me like I’m now sitting down in a place where I am free to move. Let’s not forget there is a red notice which has been asked by Japan. Unless it is removed I cannot move from Lebanon.”

In a separate French probe led by the Parquet National Financier, Ghosn is suspected of having ordered suspicious consultant payments for French politician and lawyer Rachida Dati and security expert Alain Bauer.