A Lebanese prosecutor imposed a travel ban on former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn on Thursday, judicial sources said, after he was questioned over an Interpol warrant issued by Japan seeking his arrest on financial misconduct charges.
Ghosn fled Japan to Lebanon, his childhood home, last month as he was awaiting trial on charges of under-reporting earnings, breach of trust and misappropriation of company funds, all of which he denies. The Lebanese judicial authorities also asked Japan for its file on Ghosn, including the charges against him, and will not question him again until the information is received, one of the sources said.
Carlos Abou Jaoude, a Beirut-based lawyer for Ghosn, told a Lebanese broadcaster Ghosn was 'very comfortable' with the proceedings in Beirut. 'He is very comfortable with the path,' Mr. Jaoude said, adding that Ghosn was also comfortable himself 'especially after what he went through'". The decision issued by the prosecutor, Judge Ghassan Ouiedat, requires Ghosn to keep the authorities informed of his place of residence, the judicial sources said.
Ghosn would surrender his French passport to the Lebanese authorities later, one of the sources said after the questioning, which took place at Beirut's Justice Palace, the headquarters of the judiciary. The Brazilian-born Ghosn said on Wednesday he had escaped to Lebanon to clear his name and was ready to stand trial anywhere he could get a fair hearing.
Ghosn said he was ready to stay for a long time in Lebanon, which does not allow the extradition of its nationals, and a source close to the 65-year-old has said his legal team is pushing for him to be tried in the country. In addition to the Interpol warrant, Ghosn was also questioned over a formal legal complaint filed against him by a group of Lebanese lawyers who accuse him of 'normalisation' with Israel over a visit he made there in 2008.
The prosecutor released him with the same condition, that he keeps the authorities aware of his place of residence, the sources said. There was no immediate statement from the prosecutor's office. In his comments to MTV, Ghosn's lawyer Mr. Jaoude said a statement would be issued by Ghosn's team later. Ghosn said on Wednesday he had made the trip as a French citizen and an executive of Renault to sign a contract with a state-backed Israeli firm to sell electric vehicles, and had been obliged to go because the board had requested it.
He said he apologised for the trip and said he had not meant to hurt the people of Lebanon, which deems Israel an enemy state. During the visit, Ghosn met Israel's former prime minister Mr. Ehud Olmert, who was premier at the time of the 2006 war between Israel and the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah.
Nearly 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, died in the 2006 war and 158 people died in Israel, mostly soldiers.