190126 Carlos Ghosn
Carlos Ghosn Image Credit: AFP

Ankara: The private jets that transported Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon were deployed illegally using falsified records that didn’t mention the former Nissan Motor Co. executive as a passenger, the aircraft’s operator said.

MNG Jet Havacilik AS said in a statement that it filed a criminal complaint on Jan. 1 about what it said amounted to “the illegal use of its jet charter services.” One company employee, who is being investigated by authorities, has admitted to fabricating records and acted alone, MNG said.

Ghosn’s audacious escape from house arrest has remained shrouded in mystery, giving rise to speculation just how managed to slip from the grips of Japan’s legal system. Ghosn said in a statement yesterday that his family played no role in aiding his flight, and that he alone organised his departure. That he was able to leave the country despite confiscated passports and round-the-clock surveillance has fed the folklore surrounding Ghosn as a shrewd strategist.

Japanese media reported today that surveillance footage shows Ghosn left the house alone on the day of his disappearance but didn’t return. That contrasts with speculation that he was smuggled from the premises inside a large musical case brought in earlier by band. He was eventually transferred between the two jets inside a box, a Turkish official said, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Turkish authorities have detained seven people, including four pilots, as part of a probe into the private jet flights that carried Ghosn. MNG Jet confirmed that it leased a pair of aircraft to two different clients in December, with one to fly from Dubai to Osaka and then to Istanbul, and the other scheduled from Istanbul to Beirut.

“The two leases were seemingly not connected to each other,” Cem Sasmaz, general manager of MNG Jet, said on the company’s website Friday. “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 former automotive executive was facing trial for alleged financial crimes — which he has consistently denied — and was under house arrest in Japan after months of prison detention. He was flown to Istanbul this week and then to the capital of Lebanon, where Ghosn has citizenship, protecting him from extradition back to Japan. He plans to give a press conference next week in Beirut to provide his version of events.