Lebanese , lawyers want Ghosn prosecuted over Israel trip

File photo : Then Israeli President Shimon Peres (C) stands alongside President of French automaker Renault-Nissan Carlos Ghosn (L) during a 2008 joint press conference at the president’s residence in Jerusalem. AFP. Prosecutor general Ghassan Oueidat decided… not to prosecute Ghosn over his visit to Israel since the statute of limitations of ten years had passed since the alleged visit.

Lebanese lawyers on Thursday filed a report to the judiciary demanding fugitive auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn be prosecuted over a trip he made to Israel as Renault-Nissan chairman in 2008.

Then Israeli President Shimon Peres (C) stands alongside President of French automaker Renault-Nissan Carlos Ghosn (L) during a 2008 joint press conference at the president’s residence in Jerusalem. AFP

Ghosn — who holds Lebanese, French and Brazilian citizenship — jumped bail in Tokyo in mysterious circumstances and arrived in his native Lebanon early on Monday.

The tycoon had travelled to Israel in 2008 to support a partnership with Shai Agassi, an Israeli entrepreneur who had launched an ill-fated electric vehicle venture called “Project Better Place”.

Three lawyers “submitted a report to the public prosecutor against businessman Carlos Ghosn for the crime of having entered an enemy country and violated the boycott law,” the state news agency reported.

They said several contracts had been signed during his January 2008 trip and added that Ghosn had taken part in several economic conferences.

“Doing business with Israel is not a matter of opinion — any normalisation is forbidden by law,” Hassan Bazzi, one of the lawyers, told AFP.

Lebanon is technically still at war with Israel, which occupied the south of the country until 2000, and forbids its citizens from travelling there.

Interpol, the international police cooperation body, has issued a “red notice” for Ghosn’s arrest in the wake of him fleeing Japan, but Lebanese judicial sources have said he cannot be extradited there.

Ghosn stands accused in Japan of deferring part of his salary until after his retirement and concealing this from shareholders, as well as syphoning off millions in Nissan cash for his own purposes.

He has denied all charges and has announced a press conference for next week.

Ghosn entered Lebanon on a private jet from Turkey using his French passport, according to airport documents seen by AFP.

“Where were the public prosecutor and general security when Ghosn visited Lebanon, after he travelled to occupied Palestine and was photographed there?,” Bazzi asked.

General security is Lebanon’s main intelligence agency, which routinely investigates Lebanese citizens suspected of ties with Israel.

“Lebanon prosecutes poor people while those who have earned millions by investing with the enemy are treated as national heroes,” Bazzi said.

In 2017, French-Lebanese filmmaker Ziad Doueiri was arrested and briefly questioned for filming part of his film “The Attack” in Israel.

Ghosn visited Lebanon several times since 2008 . During his several visits to Lebanon he always met all the top leaders of the country including the presidents and PMs.

Hezbollah has reportedly demanded withdrawal of Ghosn’s Lebanese passport, and some went as far as calling for his arrest if he sets foot in Beirut, citing a Lebanese law dating back to 1955 which prohibits any Lebanese from visiting Israeli territory or dealing with Israeli citizens. Ghosn ignored their threats, however, and his last visit was in 2017, when a stamp was issued with his image by Liban Post.

There are reports that Ghosn is being seriously considered for a. ministerial post by PM designate Hassan Diab.

“He is seriously being considered for the Ministry of Industry,” said Fadi Walid Akoum, a prominent Lebanese analyst. But Akoum added: “Given that he faces accusations of corruption, then he will be automatically rejected by the Lebanese street, which revolted against corruption last October.”