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TOKYO, Jan 7 — New reports emerged yesterday on how fugitive former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn jumped bail in Japan, as the country's justice minister said border controls would be bolstered after the escape.
The 65-year-old executive skipped bail nearly a week ago, fleeing Japan where he was awaiting trial on multiple counts of financial misconduct that he denies.
He is now in Lebanon and the details of his escape remain spotty. Japan said it is still investigating how he slipped past strict security measures imposed as part of his bail conditions.
Citing sources close to the investigation, public broadcaster NHK said yesterday that Ghosn left his residence by himself on the afternoon of December 29 and met two men at a Tokyo hotel.
The three then boarded a Shinkansen bullet train together from Tokyo's Shinagawa station to a station in western Osaka, arriving around 7.30pm.
The trio then checked in at a hotel near Kansai Airport, but only the two men accompanying Ghosn were caught on security camera leaving the hotel later in the evening, NHK said.
They were carrying "two big boxes" which were not checked by customs staff at the airport, the report added.
Ghosn is believed to have taken a private jet from the airport that evening, bound for Istanbul, where he switched planes and continued to Beirut.
But many details of his departure from Japan are still shrouded in mystery.
The justice ministry said it did not have records of Ghosn departing Japan.
“It is believed that he used some wrongful methods to illegally leave the country,” Justice Minister Masako Mori said at a press conference yesterday.
“I have instructed the immigration agency to further tighten the departure process,” she added.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Ghosn was loaded onto the flight from Osaka in a large case for audio equipment, which was later found at the back of the cabin.
The newspaper cited unnamed sources close to the investigation in Turkey as saying that holes had been drilled into the bottom of the container to ensure the businessman could breathe.
Japan's transport ministry told AFP that luggage checks are not mandatory for private jets.
Ghosn, who has French, Brazilian and Lebanese nationalities, was able to enter Lebanon on a French passport, according to airport documents seen by AFP.
A court in Tokyo had allowed Ghosn to keep a second French passport because he needed one to travel inside Japan, a source close to the matter has told AFP.
Japan has launched a probe into the humiliating security lapse and prosecutors said they would “coordinate with the relevant agencies to swiftly and appropriately investigate the matter.”
Ghosn has vowed to give his own account at a hotly awaited press conference in Beirut this week.
He has said he left Japan because he was no longer willing to be “held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system.”
Ghosn stands accused in Japan of under-reporting his salary, deferring part of his income until after his retirement and concealing this from shareholders, as well as syphoning off millions in Nissan cash for his own purposes.
Jiji Press agency reported late yesterday that Ghosn may have fled Japan after learning that public prosecutors had obtained significant evidence supporting the alleged transfer of Nissan cash.
Citing informed sources, Jiji said prosecutors disclosed to the defense during pretrial procedures in autumn of last year, or later, the existence of an email detailing a Lebanese investment company's report to Ghosn about the funds transfer. — AFP
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