Carlos Ghosn Launches Initiative to Help his Native Lebanon

Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn made a new public appearance in Lebanon Tuesday during which he launched an initiative with a local university to help the country that is undergoing a severe economic and financial crisis.

It is Ghosn's second appearance in public since he was smuggled from Japan in late December to his ancestral Lebanon. In early January, Ghosn gave a news conference in Beirut saying he fled because he could not expect a fair trial, was subjected to unfair conditions in detention and was barred from meeting his wife under his bail conditions.

Ghosn said that the initiative with the Maronite Christian Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, USEK, titled Moving Forward, aims to launch a top executive management program, a training center on new technologies and to support startups.

"The objective is certainly serving this institution ... but also serving the society and the country," Ghosn said in an opening speech. "Lebanon needs to create jobs."

Lebanon is mired in the country's worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history. It defaulted on paying back its debt for the first time ever in March, and the local currency has collapsed, leading to hyperinflation and soaring poverty and unemployment. Talks with the International Monetary Fund on a bailout package have stalled.

Many Lebanese consider Ghosn as one of the country's heroes in diaspora who succeeded in turning troubled companies into profit making ventures. Some have suggested that Ghosn should be given a governmental post in Lebanon to get the country that is notorious for corruption and mismanagement out of its troubles.

Since arriving in Lebanon, Ghosn gave interviews during which he repeatedly said he is innocent of allegations he under-reported his future income and committed a breach of trust by diverting Nissan money for his personal gain.

In January, Lebanon received the Interpol-issued wanted notice, which is a non-binding request to law enforcement agencies worldwide that they locate and provisionally arrest a fugitive.

Lebanese authorities say Ghosn entered Lebanon on a valid passport, casting doubt on the possibility they would hand him over to Japan.

Source: Associated Press

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