Turkey's MNG Jet says Ghosn used its planes illegally in escape from Japan

Published 03.01.2020 12:57
Ghosn leaving the office of his lawyer Junichiro Hironaka in Tokyo, April 3, 2019. AFP Photo
Ghosn leaving the office of his lawyer Junichiro Hironaka in Tokyo, April 3, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Turkish private aircraft operator MNG Jet said Friday its planes were used illegally for ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn's escape from Japan, adding it had filed a criminal complaint.

Ghosn became an international fugitive after he revealed 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.

"In December 2019, MNG Jet leased two separate private jets to two different clients," the company said, adding that one of the company's employees had admitted falsifying records by not including Ghosn's name in the official documentation.

"One private jet from Dubai to Osaka and Osaka to Istanbul, and another private jet from Istanbul to Beirut. The two leases were seemingly not connected to each other," the statement said.

On Thursday, Turkish police detained seven people, including four pilots, as part of an investigation into Ghosn's passage through the country. The detainees were sent to court on Friday after giving statements to the police on the incident.

Arrested in Tokyo in November 2018, Ghosn, who insists he is fleeing "injustice and political persecution," faced going on trial in April on four charges including under-reporting salary, allegedly trying to have Nissan cover personal foreign exchange losses and using millions of Nissan funds transferred to a dealership in Oman for his own use.

But his departure, which his defense counsel labeled inexcusable, has thrown the process up in the air.

"The defense team has totally lost face," having earlier promised Ghosn would not leave the country, former prosecutor Nobuo Gohara told AFP.

"For the prosecutors, it is an extremely serious situation. Nissan must be afraid. And the prosecutors as well," Gohara said.

The Tokyo Shimbun daily reported that "there is a very high probability that his trial will not be held."

France also has a legal action against Ghosn opened last April over alleged financial wrongdoing but "his absconding should not have any consequences for our investigation," French prosecutor Catherine Denis told AFP on Tuesday.

Ghosn, now in his Beirut home with his wife, according to a family friend, has vowed to communicate "freely" with the media "starting next week" and give his side of an episode that has divided the city where he grew up.

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