BEIRUT, Lebanon — The special investigative unit of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is examining whether Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, under arrest on suspicion of falsifying financial statements, ordered a Nissan subsidiary to buy luxury residences for his personal use. One of the properties concerned is in this Middle Eastern city, and hints at the auto executive’s lavish lifestyle.
The stylish home on a corner property in the Lebanese capital’s north is just 400 meters or so from the Mediterranean seafront, its pink and white walls rising three stories above street level. Security cameras keep watch at the front gate to the property, which is enclosed by a wall about 5 meters tall.
According to an individual in the real estate sector as well as local residents, Ghosn stays at the house about once a month, and employs a personal chef and other staff there. He was apparently last at the house in October. One person involved in the real estate market in central Lebanon told the Mainichi Shimbun that the property was probably worth at least US$3 million, or around 334 million yen.
Meanwhile, there is a two-story white house in Baabda, a community tucked away in the mountains about 20 kilometers east of Beirut, where Ghosn and his wife are said to have lived until around 10 years ago. It is unclear who owns the house now, but Ghosn has stated in a magazine interview that he had bought a property in Baabda.
A 54-year-old town government employee in charge of taxation told the Mainichi that the couple’s lifestyle was very simple, despite their wealth. The civil servant noted that Ghosn’s then wife seemed to dislike waste, and turned plastic bottles into flower pots. Many of the local residents shared Ghosn’s Christian Maronite faith, and a statue of the Virgin Mary adorned the roof above the home’s front entrance.
Meanwhile, suspicions have also emerged that Ghosn also had Nissan provide homes for his personal use in his home country of Brazil as well as France and the Netherlands. An individual close to the investigation has also told the Mainichi that he may have done the same for properties in New York and Tokyo.
In related news, Lebanon’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants released a statement on Nov. 20 stressing, “Carlos Ghosn is a Lebanese citizen who represents one of the Lebanese successes abroad and the Lebanese foreign ministry will stand by him in his adversity to ensure he gets a fair trial.”