Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has given his first account of his stunning escape from Japan by hiding in a box for storing musical equipment.
In an interview with the BBC, Ghosn, who was arrested in 2018 for financial misconduct and spent most of a year under house arrest before escaping, recounted his flight.
“The 30 minutes waiting in the box on the plane, waiting for it to take off, was probably the longest wait I’ve ever experienced in my life”, he said.
The Lebanese-Brazilian businessman said he was probably in the box for an hour and a half, but that it felt like “one year and a half”.
He was taken to the airport by father and son Michael and Peter Taylor, who have subsequently been handed over by US authorities to the Japanese.
Ghosn, on the other hand, has remained in Lebanon, where he flew via Turkey. Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan.
Ghosn faced a further 15 years in prison if convicted, in a country which has a 99.4 per cent conviction rate.
At the time of his arrest, Ghosn was the chairman of Nissan and French partner Renault, as well as the firms’ three-way alliance with Mitsubishi.
He has maintained his innocence since his arrest, saying that he was used as “collateral damage” in Nissan’s pushback over Renault’s growing influence.
Describing his arrest, he said: “It’s like you’re being hit by a bus or something really very traumatic happened to you. The only memory I have of this moment is shock, frozen trauma.”
Ghosn told the BBC that he decided to try and escape when he was told he could not contact his wife Carole while under house arrest.
“The plan was I could not show my face so I have to be hidden somewhere,” he said. “And the only way I could be hidden [was] to be in a box or be in a luggage so nobody could see me, nobody could recognise me and the plan could work.”
He added that the box was a logical choice because “there were a lot of concerts in Japan” at the time.