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Fugitive ex-Nissan boss had spare French passport while out on bail

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The fugitive, accused of financial misconduct, had snuck out of Japan

TOKYO : Japanese authorities allowed ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn to carry a spare French passport in a locked case while out on bail, public broadcaster NHK said yesterday, shedding light on how he managed a dramatic escape to Lebanon.

Prosecutors yesterday raided the Tokyo residence of the former Nissan Motor chairman, NHK also reported.

Ghosn, one of the world's best-known executives, has become Japan's most famous fugitive after he revealed on Tuesday that he had fled to Lebanon to escape what he called a "rigged" justice system.

The businessman, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, was smuggled out of Tokyo by a private security company days ago, the culmination of a plan that was crafted over three months.

Ghosn was first arrested in Tokyo in November 2018 and faces four charges - which he denies - including hiding income and enriching himself through payments to car dealerships in the Middle East. He enjoyed an outpouring of support from Lebanon after his arrest.

Japanese authorities have not officially commented on Ghosn's disappearance. Government offices are shut this week for the New Year holiday.

The officials in Lebanon said Ghosn entered legally on a French passport, but one of Ghosn's Japanese lawyers has said the lawyers were still in possession of all three of his passports, under the terms of his bail.

However, Ghosn had been issued a spare French passport, NHK said, citing unidentified sources, and carried it in the months before his departure.

NHK, citing the sources, said he had been "obliged" to carry the passport with him since May, without elaborating on the reason. Foreigners in Japan are required to carry government-issued identification cards or passports at all times.

NHK said his lawyers applied to have the terms of his bail changed so that he could carry a passport in a locked case.

The key to the locked case was held by his lawyers, NHK said.

No one was immediately available for comment at the office of his lawyer, Mr Junichiro Hironaka, the French Embassy in Tokyo, or at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office. - REUTERS