Jet firm says rogue employee helped car tycoon Ghosn escape

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Carlos Ghosn and his wife Caroline Ghosn at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2018. Photo: Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage

A private jet leasing company has filed a criminal complaint against one of its own employees, claiming the rogue staff member helped plan car tycoon Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan.

Istanbul-based MNG Jet said Friday it had “launched an internal inquiry and filed a criminal complaint” after learning through the media that it was involved in the former Nissan chairman’s flight from Japan to Lebanon.

MNG said it leased two aircrafts involved in the journey, one which flew from Osaka to Istanbul and a second that travelled from Istanbul to Beirut. Ghosn was not named on the paperwork for either aircraft, the company said.

“One employee of the company, who is under investigation by the authorities, has admitted having falsified the records,” MNG said in a statement. “He confirmed that he acted in his individual capacity, without the knowledge or the authorisation of the management of MNG Jet.”

READ MORE: Ghosn denies family involved in escape as arrests made

MNG said it was “pro-actively cooperating with the authorities” investigating Ghosn’s escape.

The company’s admission of involvement is the latest development in a sensational tale that has captured the world’s attention.

On New Year’s Eve multi-millionaire auto executive Carlos Ghosn fled Japan, where he was under house arrest on charges including falsifying financial information and breach of trust. Despite round-the-clock surveillance, Ghosn was able to slip out of his house and pass through international airports, eventually reaching Lebanon.

The escape has shocked Japan and sparked fevered speculation about how he was able to cross through multiple international borders untroubled. Initial reports suggested he had been smuggled in a musical instrument case, although this has since been denied.

READ MORE: Ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn escaped Japan 'in instrument case'

Seven people were arrested in Turkey in connection to Ghosn’s escape on Thursday. Interpol issued a ‘red notice’ on the same day, alerting international police forces to the fact Japanese authorities were seeking Ghosn’s return to Japan.

For his part, Ghosn has said he “escaped injustice and political persecution.” Ghosn was arrested in November 2018 and was held in jail for over 100 days before being released on one of the highest bails in Japanese history. Ghosn claims he is the victim of a “conspiracy” at Nissan, which ousted him as chairman as he was arrested.

65-year-old Ghosn is one of the most powerful men in the global auto industry, credited with helping to turn around the fortunes of Nissan and masterminding the alliance between Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi.

He is expected to give a press conference to the world’s media in Lebanon next week.