Turkish MNG: Ghosn used our jets illegally to escape from Japan

Company files criminal complaint in Turkey over former Nissan head's escape from Japan to Lebanon via Istanbul.

    The Lebanese authorities on Thursday received an Interpol warrant for Carlos Ghosn's arrest [File: AP]
    The Lebanese authorities on Thursday received an Interpol warrant for Carlos Ghosn's arrest [File: AP]

    A Turkish private jet operator has said former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn used two of its planes illegally to escape from Japan, alleging an employee falsified records to exclude his name from documents.

    MNG Jet said on Friday it had filed a criminal complaint about the incident, a day after Turkish police arrested seven people, including four pilots, as part of an investigation into Ghosn's passage through Istanbul on the way to Lebanon.

    Ghosn, a French citizen with Lebanese ancestry, has become an international fugitive after he revealed on Tuesday he had fled to Lebanon to escape what he called a "rigged" justice system in Japan, where he faces charges relating to alleged financial crimes.

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    Lebanon on Thursday received an Interpol arrest warrant for Ghosn, whose surprise escape from his home in Tokyo to a separate residence in Beirut has not been fully explained.

    Japanese public broadcaster NHK, citing investigative sources, said a surveillance camera captured the former Nissan chairman leaving his Tokyo home alone shortly before his escape.

    The security footage was taken by a camera installed at his house in central Tokyo at about noon on Sunday, and the camera did not show him returning home, NHK said.

    Ghosn carried a spare French passport in a locked case while out on bail to escape Japan, NHK also said.

    The businessman holds citizenships with Lebanon, France and Brazil, but those passports were with his lawyers at the time of his escape, according to a lawyer.

    By early Monday, he had touched down in Istanbul.

    Two different clients

    MNG Jet said in its statement it leased two jets to two different clients in agreements that "were seemingly not connected to each other". One plane flew from Osaka to Istanbul, the other from Istanbul to Beirut.

    "The name of Mr Ghosn did not appear in the official documentation of any of the flights," it said.

    "After having learned through the media that the leasing was benefitting Mr Ghosn and not the officially declared passengers, MNG Jet launched an internal inquiry and filed a criminal complaint in Turkey."

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    An employee admitted to falsifying the records and confirmed he "acted in his individual capacity", the company said.

    Ghosn was first arrested in Tokyo in November 2018 and faces four charges - which he denies - including hiding income and enriching himself through payments to car dealerships in the Middle East. He enjoyed an outpouring of support from Lebanon after his arrest.

    The former chairman has said he will speak publicly about his escape on January 8.

    Some Lebanese media have floated a Houdini-like account of Ghosn being packed in a wooden container for musical instruments after a private concert in his home, but his wife has called the account "fiction".

    SOURCE: News agencies