Carlos Ghosn – the Lebanon connection

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 31, 2019

When I heard about Carlos Ghosn’s flight to Lebanon from Japan, where he faces trial over allegations of financial misconduct, it brought back memories of Freakonomics Radio’s investigation of the worldwide Lebanese diaspora.

That episode – from back in August 2013 – was titled “Who Are the Most Successful Immigrants in the World?”

The Lebanese, it seems. People like Mr Ghosn, a man who holds passports of three countries – Brazil, France and Lebanon. He’s the architect of Nissan’s alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors and is justifiably regarded as one of the automobile industry’s most prominent executives.

Anyway, Freakonomics set out to answer the question about the world’s most successful immigrants because Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan and Antifragile, had made the following assertion to Freakonomics’ host Steven Dubner: “If you look at ten or twenty or thirty of the richest countries around the world, among the richest people in those countries is someone from Lebanon.”

Well, Mr Ghosn is a fully paid-up member of the disproportionately large Lebanese diaspora – five times as many people of Lebanese descent live outside Lebanon than the roughly 4.2 million people within the country.

Mr Ghosn’s decision to flee from Japan to Lebanon underlines the apparent strength of the diaspora’s bonds to the mother country. He was born in Brazil to parents of Lebanese descent, but was raised in Beirut before going to France for further education. Mr Ghosn’s wife is Lebanese, he is a partner in several Lebanese businesses, including a winery. More important, the Lebanese government advocated on Mr Ghosn’s behalf after his arrest last year. Some might say though that Lebanon offers Mr Ghosn something more priceless by far: the fact that it doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Japan.