TOKYO, Japan, Apr 24 – Carole Ghosn, who not so long ago was an influential but discreet figure in the New York fashion world, has been thrust into the limelight by the arrest of her tycoon husband Carlos, and his subsequent flight from Japan.
The second wife of the former Nissan boss, who like him also has Lebanese citizenship, vocally led the campaign for her husband’s freedom but what role she played in his epic escape from Japan remains unclear.
Carole was reunited with her husband last week after he jumped bail in Tokyo, where he had been jailed and then held under house arrest over several counts of financial misconduct.
On Tuesday Japanese prosecutors obtained a warrant for her arrest, accusing her of “false testimony”, without offering further details.
Carole Ghosn has spent a large part of her life in the United States.
But over the past year, she has criss-crossed the globe, spearheading a campaign to clear her husband’s name.
She was not with him on November 19, 2018 when he was dramatically arrested aboard his private jet at a Japanese airport, and was shocked to learn the news thousands of kilometres away.
She was prevented from seeing her husband during his detention and initially kept largely silent about his case but was ever-present after he was released on bail to a central Tokyo apartment in March.
Carole appealed to French President Emmanuel Macron, complaining in an interview with the newspaper Journal du Dimanche that the silence of French authorities in the case was “deafening”.
She also contacted the White House and gave a tearful interview to US media in which she said her 65-year-old husband was in poor health, a state exacerbated by what she described as “mental abuse” while he was detained.
“During the month he was free, they tried to live normally, go for walks, eat good meals,” said a Tokyo-based friend of the couple.
This was in spite of the photographers who camped outside their residence — to Carole’s visible annoyance.
The respite was brief and Carlos was rearrested at dawn on April 4 to answer further allegations — an event that “traumatised” her, according to her friend.
In interviews she claimed that prosecutors scoured their 50-square-metre (550-square-foot) apartment, searched her, took her passport and even accompanied her to the bathroom.
“It was a huge trial, among the worst moments of her life,” said the couple’s French lawyer, Francois Zimeray, who praised her for her “dignity” under pressure.
Using another passport, she then left Japan for France but returned a few days later to face questioning and show “she had nothing to hide”.
The exact circumstances of Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan are unclear, but dramatic reports continue to emerge, including that he was spirited out of the country inside a box that had been smuggled onto a private jet.
The former Nissan chairman insisted last week that he had not received help from any government and had organised his escape “alone”, denying reports that his wife orchestrated the daring operation.
He is due to give a press conference on Wednesday.
Born in 1966 in Beirut as Carole Nahas, the businesswoman has spent most of her life in the US. She holds American nationality along with her three children from her first marriage.
Highly educated and successful in her own right, in the 2000s she founded a company selling luxury kaftans.
She met Carlos and the couple fell quickly in love, with Carole providing a calming influence on the impulsive tycoon, according to one friend.
They were married in 2016 at the gilded Versailles Palace near Paris in a lavish ceremony that has since caught the attention of authorities amid questions over how it was funded.
According to sources close to the case, she is named as president of a company used to buy a luxury yacht that prosecutors suspect was purchased partly with funds diverted from Nissan.
Authorities have questioned her over the British Virgin Isles-registered company “Beauty Yachts” but she has not been charged and denies wrongdoing.