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Carlos Ghosn Flees Japan

Recognized as an international criminal lawyer and legal analyst, Attorney Page Pate is often contacted by the media to discuss important cases appearing in the news.

In this case, the former Chairman of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, was charged with financial misconduct and breach of trust in Japan. His trial was scheduled in April 2020, but he recently secretly fled Japan and returned to his home country of Lebanon. There are many questions surrounding Mr. Ghosn’s escape from Japan and what options Japan may have to get him back, since there is not an extradition treaty between Lebanon and Japan.

Seeking an expert opinion, CNBC contacted Page to discuss the case. Page is asked about the likely future of the scheduled trial of Mr. Ghosn, since he is no longer in Japan. Page responds “The trial was set for later next year. However, at this point, since he is considered a fugitive by Japan, the trial will obviously not go forward. The case will remain pending against him in the event that Japan is ever able to bring him back within their jurisdiction to try him. Now, it is also possible that Japan can seek the assistance of Lebanon, not just in returning Mr. Ghosn but actually pursuing criminal charges against him in that country. That’s also a possibility.”

Page says that he does not think that Lebanon would comply with an attempt by Japan to go through Interpol to locate Mr. Ghosn, and that “As everyone knows, Interpol certainly will notify a country that another country is requesting the arrest and detention of somebody who’s either a suspect or facing sentence… Interpol cannot force Lebanon to arrest Mr. Ghosn, and Mr. Ghosn has substantial ties and citizenship in Lebanon. So they’re probably going to accept the notice, but they’re not going to act on it.”

When asked what Japan can do next, Page explains that “…Japan can do a couple of things. First, they can continue to try to negotiate with Lebanon for a diplomatic solution here. Even though there is no extradition treaty and Lebanon is not required to arrest Mr. Ghosn, they can do it voluntarily. They can agree to help Japan in this situation, either for economic reasons or diplomatic reasons. The other thing that Japan can do, and they’ve done this already, is notify other countries around the world that in the event Mr. Ghosn travels outside of Lebanon, he could be arrested and subject to detention and eventual return to Japan. So their options are limited, but I do expect they’re gonna continue to pursue the case.”

TRANSCRIPT:

Becky: Also, some new details this morning on Carlos Ghosn’s escape from house arrest in Japan. Joining us right now, international criminal lawyer Page Pate of the Pate, Johnson & Church law firm. Also, Phil LeBeau. And Phil, let’s start with you. What do we know this morning?

Phil: Well, Becky, the private jet company, which is based out of Turkey, has filed a criminal complaint against one of its employees because, remember, there were two private jets that got Carlos going from Japan, then to Turkey, then on to Lebanon. And the company, MNG Jets, out with a statement today saying that it has filed a criminal complaint against one of its employees because it did not know that one of its jets would be used going from Osaka, Japan to Turkey to ferry Mr. Ghosn, who was not on the manifest.

So this is the beginning of getting a few more details about how Carlos Ghosn got out of Japan and eventually to Lebanon. Because right now, we don’t have a whole lot to go on, aside from a few things like this.

Becky: Page, let’s talk more about what happens next. Now that he is in Lebanon, what happens to the trial in Japan, which, by the way, it looked like it was going to be postponed until next year, anyway, 2021? What happens?

Page: Right. That’s my understanding. The trial was set for later next year. However, at this point, since he is considered a fugitive by Japan, the trial will obviously not go forward. The case will remain pending against him in the event that Japan is ever able to bring him back within their jurisdiction to try him. Now, it is also possible that Japan can seek the assistance of Lebanon, not just in returning Mr. Ghosn but actually pursuing criminal charges against him in that country. That’s also a possibility.

Becky: You think Lebanon would actually go ahead with that? Yesterday, it looked like they would not respond to the Interpol notice of trying to find and locate him.

Page: Right. No, I don’t think they’re gonna go along with that. As everyone knows, Interpol certainly will notify a country that another country is requesting the arrest and detention of somebody who’s either a suspect or facing sentence, but I do not think Lebanon’s gonna go along with that. Interpol cannot force Lebanon to arrest Mr. Ghosn, and Mr. Ghosn has substantial ties and citizenship in Lebanon. So they’re probably going to accept the notice, but they’re not going to act on it.

Becky: So what is Japan’s next move?

Page: Well, Japan can do a couple of things. First, they can continue to try to negotiate with Lebanon for a diplomatic solution here. Even though there is no extradition treaty and Lebanon is not required to arrest Mr. Ghosn, they can do it voluntarily. They can agree to help Japan in this situation, either for economic reasons or diplomatic reasons.

The other thing that Japan can do, and they’ve done this already, is notify other countries around the world that in the event Mr. Ghosn travels outside of Lebanon, he could be arrested and subject to detention and eventual return to Japan. So their options are limited, but I do expect they’re gonna continue to pursue the case.

Becky: Phil, what happens next for Carlos Ghosn? Quick answer.

Phil: Well, Carlos Ghosn, he plans to talk next week, and he says this is the beginning of getting his story out, about how he was wrongly accused of crimes that he did not commit. The problem with that strategy, Becky, is while he wants that to be the focus, the focus right now, for most of the people in the world when they look at Carlos Ghosn, is how did you get out of this country? It’s a great mystery.

And until those questions are answered, it’s gonna be tough for him to change the storyline into, “Hey, here are the crimes that I was accused of. Here’s why I didn’t commit them.” He may wanna talk about that. People wanna find out, how did you get out of the country?