Targeted by an arrest warrant from the French courts, the former boss of Renault-Nissan is suspected of having developed, between 2012 and 2017, a money laundering scheme in an organized gang and corruption, with four officials of the distributor Omani automobile Suhail Bahwan Automobiles (SBA). He disputes these accusations.

The two magistrates from Nanterre – an investigating judge and a prosecutor from the eco-financial department of the prosecution – and the investigator from the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption and Financial and Tax Offenses (OCLCIFF) must stay until Friday in Tokyo to conduct interrogations, confirmed the Nanterre prosecution.

The objective is to know if these interviewees were “informed” of the flows with SBA considered suspicious, or even had “validated” them, the prosecution told AFP.

These flows are estimated at a minimum of 15 million euros, according to a source close to the investigation.

According to this same source, serious or concordant indications make it possible to suspect Carlos Ghosn of having ordered the payment of bonuses from Renault to the SBA distributor, “disguised by a certain number of accounting entries such as bonuses, reversals of stock”, and part of which was then sent to shell companies belonging to Carlos Ghosn’s entourage.

The relationship between Carlos Ghosn and the founder of SBA, Suhail Bahwan – who disputes the accusations – is at the heart of the case: the sheikh notably lent “25 million euros” to Mr. Ghosn in the context of “the crisis financial year of 2008”, a loan whose repayment is “not requested”, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Mr. Ghosn’s defense could not be reached on Saturday. Renault, a civil party in this case, and its lawyers declined to comment.

Opened in February 2020, the judicial investigation gave rise on April 21 to the issuance of an international arrest warrant against Carlos Ghosn for passive corruption, abuse of corporate assets, breach of trust and money laundering in an organized gang.

Arrest warrants also target the four SBA officials.

If the one against Carlos Ghosn is executed, the ex-CEO will be presented to an examining magistrate in Nanterre, who will notify him of his indictment.

The 68-year-old former car tycoon is also the subject of an arrest warrant from Japanese justice, the country where he was to be tried for financial embezzlement before his incredible flight to Lebanon at the end of 2019.

The Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian has found refuge there, as Lebanon does not extradite its nationals. He is also forced to stay there, as Lebanon has banned him from traveling due to Japanese lawsuits.

This geographical location, far from France, complicated the work of the investigators in Nanterre.

After having had to go to Beirut to hear him in June 2021, the Nanterre investigating judge tried, on several occasions, to notify Mr. Ghosn of his charges, in particular by summoning him. But he opposed his ban on leaving Lebanon, forcing him to issue an arrest warrant.

Since then, the Lebanese justice has questioned Carlos Ghosn, without questioning him. A source at the Lebanese prosecutor’s office told AFP that he had instead asked France to send him the file concerning Mr. Ghosn.

The former CEO is also targeted, in France, by a judicial investigation in Paris relating to contracts signed by a subsidiary of Renault Nissan, RNBV.

The judge in charge of this investigation summoned him on May 19 for a first appearance interrogation, but the latter justified, once again, his absence by his prohibition to leave Lebanon.