The warrant was issued over $16.3 million in suspect payments between the Renault-Nissan alliance that Ghosn once headed and an Omani company.

Carlos Ghosn, who faced several additional financial misconduct charges, has always insisted that he is innocent.
Carlos Ghosn, who faced several additional financial misconduct charges, has always insisted that he is innocent. (AFP Archive)

French authorities have issued an international arrest warrant for Carlos Ghosn, the disgraced auto tycoon who jumped bail in Japan and fled to Lebanon in a sensational getaway.

The warrant was issued over suspect payments between the Renault-Nissan alliance that Ghosn once headed and an Omani company, Suhail Bahwan Automobiles (SBA).

Prosecutors on the Paris suburb of Nanterre said on Friday the suspect payments were estimated to be at 15 million euros ($16.3 million).

One of Ghosn's lawyers, Jean Tamalet, termed the French warrant "very surprising because the investigating judge and the Nanterre prosecutor know" that Ghosn is "subject to a judicial ban on leaving Lebanese territory".

Tamalet also stressed that the former Nissan boss "has always cooperated with justice".

The Nanterre judge heading the investigation has issued five arrest warrants that, in addition to Ghosn, target the current and former leaders of SBA.

READ MORE: Japan indicts two Americans accused of aiding Ghosn escape

Sensational escape

Nanterre authorities visited Beirut twice during their investigation, questioning two witnesses in February after having spoken to Ghosn last year along with Paris investigators.

The French probe centres 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.

Ghosn would need to be in France to be formally indicted and gain access to the details of the charges he faces.

Ghosn, then chief of Nissan and head of an alliance between Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, was detained in Japan in November 2018 on suspicion of financial misconduct along with his top aide, Greg Kelly. They both denied wrongdoing.

In December 2019, as he awaited trial, Ghosn staged an audacious getaway, being smuggled out of Japan in an audio-equipment case on a private jet.

Ghosn, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian passports, landed in Beirut, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

He said he fled because he did not believe he would get a fair trial in Japan, where prosecutors have a nearly 99 percent conviction rate in cases that go to trial.

He also said that Nissan colluded with prosecutors to have him arrested because he wanted to deepen the Japanese firm's alliance with Renault.

His former aide Kelly, meanwhile, was handed a six-month suspended sentence by a Tokyo court last month over allegations he helped Ghosn attempt to conceal income.

READ MORE: Lebanon bans Ghosn from foreign travel

Source: TRTWorld and agencies