Turkish private jet company MNG has filed a criminal complaint saying its aircraft were used illegally to transport fugitive businessman Carlos Ghosn to Lebanon as he fled prosecution in Japan, the firm said Friday.
It said one employee had admitted to falsifying the records to keep Ghosn’s name off the flight manifest, and that he acted “in his individual capacity.”
“MNG Jet filed a criminal complaint concerning the illegal use of its jet charter services in relation to Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan,” the company said in a statement.
It said two bookings were made in December by two different clients: one involving a flight from Dubai to Osaka, Japan and from Osaka to Istanbul; and the other a flight from Istanbul to Beirut.
“The two leases were seemingly not connected to each other. The name of Mr Ghosn did not appear in the official documentation of any of the flights. The jets did not belong to but were operated by MNG Jet,” the statement said.
“After having learnt through the media that the leasing was benefiting Mr Ghosn and not the officially declared passengers, MNG Jet launched an internal inquiry and filed a criminal complaint,” it added.
The company called for those who had facilitated Ghosn’s flight to be fully prosecuted.
Ghosn, who faced multiple charges of financial misconduct that he denies, won bail in April but with strict conditions – including a ban on overseas travel and living under surveillance.
But the executive, who has French, Brazilian and Lebanese nationalities, managed to slip out of Japan on Sunday despite having handed over three passports to his lawyers.
A lawyer for Ghosn said Saturday he felt betrayed by his client’s escape from Japan but still understood the act, claiming it resulted from Japan’s inhumane justice system.
“First, I was filled with a sense of strong anger. I felt betrayed,” Ghosn lawyer Takashi Takano wrote in his blog, stating that he had not been informed about the plan in advance.
“But anger was turning to something else as I recalled how he was treated by the country’s justice system,” Takano said.
“I can easily imagine that if people with wealth, human networks and ability to take action have the same experience, they would do the same thing or at least consider doing so,” Takano said.
Ghosn’s high-profile arrest in November 2018 and his long detention under severe conditions were widely portrayed as draconian compared with what might happen under Western systems.
Suspects in Japan can be detained for weeks or even months before trial, with limited access to their lawyers, and around 99 percent of trials in the country result in a conviction.
Critics including rights groups such as Amnesty International have derided Japan’s system as “hostage justice,” designed to break morale and force confessions from suspects.
When safely in Lebanon, Ghosn pressed this point again, saying he would “no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system.”
Another lawyer for Ghosn, Junichiro Hironaka, on Saturday also said that harsh bail conditions – notably the restrictions on contact with his wife Carole – appeared to have motivated the tycoon’s escape.
“He did not know when he can meet his wife … and there was no prospect for a change in his bail conditions,” Hironaka told reporters.
“I guess these things were really tough for him,” the lawyer said.
A Tokyo court banned Ghosn from contacting his wife despite several petitions from his legal team describing the measure as “cruel, and a punishment.”
He was later permitted to speak to her via videoconference only.
While Japanese prosecutors have launched an investigation, many details of Ghosn’s Hollywood-like flight from Japan remain unclear.