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Ghosn: ‘Money is not the problem, trust is’

Nissan's former executive Carlos Ghosn attends a press conference at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK), north of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. Ghosn was arrested in Japan in 2018, and was awaiting trial on charges of under-reporting future income and breach of trust when he jumped bail and escaped to Lebanon late last year. The Brazilian-born Frenchman has Lebanese citizenship. (AP Photo)
Nissan's former executive Carlos Ghosn attends a press conference at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK), north of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. Ghosn was arrested in Japan in 2018, and was awaiting trial on charges of under-reporting future income and breach of trust when he jumped bail and escaped to Lebanon late last year. The Brazilian-born Frenchman has Lebanese citizenship. (AP Photo)
The conference is based on the current situation in Lebanon and the key role the higher education institutions play in responding to the challenges. (ANJ Photo)
The conference is based on the current situation in Lebanon and the key role the higher education institutions play in responding to the challenges. (ANJ Photo)
The conference is based on the current situation in Lebanon and the key role the higher education institutions play in responding to the challenges. (ANJ Photo)
The conference is based on the current situation in Lebanon and the key role the higher education institutions play in responding to the challenges. (ANJ Photo)
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29 Sep 2020 08:09:25 GMT9
29 Sep 2020 08:09:25 GMT9

Leila Hatoum

JOUNIEH, Lebanon:  The world’s most elusive businessman, Carlos Ghosn, said Tuesday he is working beyond politics to concentrate on creating more jobs, and supporting startups in his home country, Lebanon.

The runaway former Nissan and Renault chairman, who faced business misconduct charges and made headlines worldwide following his innovative escape from Japan in December 2019, has teamed up with one of Lebanon’s top universities, vowing to provide his expertise, advice and even financial support to students, entrepreneurs and startups.

Lebanon has been hit hard by a multitude of crises from financial to political and even social, amid an international pandemic that has further put economic and health strains on the country.

The political impasse had pushed people to look for solutions away from the corrupt political systems, with many, including during Tuesday’s conference, hinting they wanted Ghosn to enter the political field and help.

Ghosn dodged such insinuations, refusing to answer questions related to politics or his much-awaited trial and his legal status as a wanted fugitive in two countries: Japan and France. Instead, he opted to focus on the “Moving Forward” initiative.

“No matter what happens on the political level, we should look beyond that, and stick together, help out and give our expertise,” Ghosn said at a conference held at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK).

“The objective is to serve the country and the society. The country needs jobs,” he said.

He added that when young people are educated and trained as entrepreneurs, and when startups are supported, jobs are created.

However, when asked how he can fund the program as an angel investor, amid illegitimate capital control constraints imposed by banks, Ghosn pointed out that what the country lacks at the moment was international trust, not money.

“Money is not a problem. Money will come once there is a vision and a solid and enforceable plan,” Ghosn added.

USEK’s collaboration with Ghosn will see educators, angel investors and mentors from across the world, some of whom were contacted personally by Ghosn,

They are “all willing to extend their expertise pro bono, and invest in innovative ideas,” Ghosn said.

“When I came back to Lebanon last December… I offered my help pro bono… The first to contact me was USEK’s chief father Talal and we discussed how to help the education sector and the country. He had a vision and we discussed it and that is why we are here today,” he explained.

According to USEK’s Head, Father Talal El Hachem, the 3D initiative is to help education, society and countrywide benefit from Ghosn’s advice and mentoring as a seasoned businessman.

“Educating and supporting students, entrepreneurs and start-ups will guarantee them a better future,” he said.

El Hachem added that there was “nothing that prevents USEK from sharing such an initiative and growing it across a shared platform with other universities in Lebanon,” and even collaborating with universities abroad.

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