Special to Arab News Japan
[video width="1920" height="1080" mp4="https://www.arabnews.jp/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/05/WhatsApp-Video-2020-05-31-at-9.33.14-PM.mp4"][/video]
An audio recording of Arab News Japan's interview with’s legal rep. in , Sakher Hachem
BEIRUT: Lebanese authorities might have to deport Nissan’s former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, to Japan if they wish to progress with the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) multi-billion-dollar bailout and avoid bankruptcy, Arab News has learnt.
As Lebanon seeks to save its dwindling economy from ‘freefall’ amid its worst financial crisis in four decades, the Cabinet has decided to seek financial assistance and a multi-billion-dollar bailout from the IMF.
According to Prime Minister Hassan Diab, Lebanon is seeking more than $10 billion in foreign assistance and the bailout scheme will be based on an economic and financial reform plan that was approved recently.
Part of the IMF’s conditions to provide Lebanon with financial support is that Japan agrees to do so, according to Nissan’s lawyer Sakher El Hachem, who said according to top Lebanese officials with whom he had communicated, ‘Japan will assist Lebanon if Ghosn gets extradited’.
Recent media reports purported that Ghosn was being subjected to a form of ‘political blackmail’ in an attempt to coerce him to invest his fortune in multimillion dollar worth of projects in Lebanon or else risk being handed over to the Japanese authorities as part of a supposed deal.
According to the same media reports, the deal would eventually lead to extraditing Ghosn, through the Interpol, to Japan against the latter providing a grant to build an electric power station.
Speaking to Arab News, Nissan’s legal representative in Lebanon, lawyer El Hachem said: “For Japan to agree on that they want the Lebanese authorities to extradite Ghosn, otherwise, they won’t provide Lebanon with financial assistance. Japan is one of the IMF’s major contributors … if Japan vetoes Lebanon then the IMF won’t give Lebanon money except after deporting Ghosn. The alleged electricity agreement or deal is baseless. Anything being reported about investments or political blackmail is false.”
No comment could be obtained from the Japanese Embassy in Beirut despite repetitive attempts.
On the most recent updates regarding the extradition request and legal procedures in Ghosn’s case, lawyer El Hachem said all measures have been frozen since the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The last legal procedure that we were handling in the case was to evacuate his Al Achrafieh property and hand it over to our client (Nissan). Then COVID-19 struck and halted all legal procedures although a ruling was expected in that case,” he concluded.
On the other hand, a well-informed source and familiar to Ghosn said the latter has been involved in ‘very serious and advanced discussions’ with a Latin American embassy (believed to be Brazil) to go and stay there.
Before COVID-19 pandemic, Japan was seeking Lebanon’s cooperation in the extradition request of Ghosn, Nissan’s former chairman who dodged house arrest in Tokyo and fled to Beirut in December 2019.
Ghosn was facing multiple accusations of committing financial irregularities worth millions of US dollars when he chaired Nissan. He denies all charges.
The 66-year-old businessman holds Lebanese, French and Brazilian passports.
Japan issued an arrest warrant following Ghosn’s escape and requested that he be deported through the Interpol due to the fact that it hasn’t signed any extradition treaty with Lebanon.
“All legal procedures pertaining to Ghosn’s extradition request have been put on hold since the COVID-19 outbreak. Due to the political and diplomatic significance of this case, I cannot divulge any further details,” a top Justice Ministry official told Arab News.