Fresh sup­port for Car­los Ghosn as bill­boards spring up in Le­banon

Business Day - - International - Agency Staff /AFP

Le­banese woke up to bill­boards of ousted Nis­san chair Car­los Ghosn posted around Beirut on Thurs­day, in a new show of sup­port for the de­tained busi­ness­man of Le­banese ori­gin.

The Brazil­ian-born en­tre­pre­neur is feted in Le­banon as a model of global suc­cess, and many were shocked by his ar­rest in Ja­pan over al­leged fi­nan­cial mis­con­duct.

“We are all Car­los Ghosn,” the dig­i­tal bill­boards de­clared, un­der a large mo­saic por­trait of the 64year-old ty­coon, who is held in a Ja­panese prison.

Dany Ka­mal, man­ag­ing part­ner at the Le­banese ad­ver­tis­ing firm that put them up, said the 18 bill­boards are a “per­sonal ini­tia­tive” as he is an ac­quain­tance of Ghosn, de­tained in Novem­ber. “It’s just a cam­paign against in­jus­tice,” he said. “Un­til proven other­wise, Car­los is not guilty.”

Ghosn spent his child­hood years in Le­banon and has reg­u­larly trav­elled back and forth to the tiny Mediter­ranean coun­try. The Le­banese au­thor­i­ties have re­peat­edly hon­oured him, and in 2017 Ghosn’s por­trait even ap­peared on a postal stamp.

Sev­eral Le­banese of­fi­cials have ex­pressed sol­i­dar­ity with Ghosn since his ar­rest on Novem­ber 19, as he de­nies al­le­ga­tions that he un­der­re­ported his pay by mil­lions of dol­lars.

“A Le­banese phoenix will not be scorched by a Ja­panese sun,” in­te­rior min­is­ter No­had Mach­nouk de­clared. For­eign min­is­ter Gi­bran Bas­sil re­ceived the Ja­panese am­bas­sador, Matahiro Yamaguchi, in Novem­ber to in­quire about the cir­cum­stances of Ghosn’s ar­rest and the con­di­tions of his de­ten­tion, the min­istry said.

Ghosn faces an ar­ray of claims in­volv­ing hid­ing money and ben­e­fits he re­ceived while chair of Nis­san and head of an al­liance be­tween the Ja­panese firm, Mit­subishi Mo­tors and France’s Re­nault.

While Mit­subishi Mo­tors and Nis­san have both re­moved Ghosn, he re­mains chair and CEO of Re­nault.

On so­cial me­dia, some in Le­banon have clam­oured that Ghosn is in­no­cent, while oth­ers have seen his ar­rest as an ex­am­ple of bet­ter ac­count­abil­ity in other coun­tries. “May all the gangs of thieves in Le­banon meet the same fate,” one Le­banese so­cial me­dia user wrote on­line.

AFP

Pop­u­lar: Former Nis­san chief Car­los Ghosn on a bill­board in Beirut on Thurs­day. Ghosn was ar­rested in Novem­ber and will be held un­til De­cem­ber 20 /

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