Ghosn illegally used our jets to flee Japan, the Turkish company says

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By Ezgi Erkoyun and Makiko Yamazaki

ISTANBUL / TOKYO (Reuters) – A Turkish private jet operator said on Friday that ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn illegally used two of his planes while fleeing Japan.

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

Ghosn has become an international refugee after he announced on Tuesday that he had fled to Lebanon to escape what he called a "manipulated" judicial system in Japan, where he was charged with alleged financial crimes.

Lebanon received an Interpol arrest warrant for Ghosn on Thursday, whose surprising escape from its Tokyo home to a separate home in Beirut has not been fully resolved.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the tiny Ghosn had slipped out of Japan on a private jet hidden in a large black suitcase that was normally used to carry audio equipment. He was accompanied by two men whose names matched those of the American security company, the newspaper reported on the escape of people familiar with the Turkish probe.

<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "Japanese public broadcaster NHK, citing investigative sources, said a surveillance camera captured the former Nissan Motor Co <7201.T> chairman leaving his Tokyo residence alone shortly before his escape. "data-reactid =" 37 "> The Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported, citing investigative sources, that a surveillance camera had detected the former Nissan Motor Co <7201.T> The chairman leaves his residence in Tokyo shortly before his escape.

The security material was taken by a camera installed at his home in central Tokyo around noon on Sunday, and the camera did not show him how to return home, NHK said.

He landed in Istanbul early Monday.

In its statement, MNG Jet rented two jets to two different customers in agreements that "apparently were not related". One plane flew from Osaka to Istanbul, the other from Istanbul to Beirut.

"Mr. Ghosn's name did not appear in the official documentation for one of the flights," it said.

"After MNG Jet found out in the media that the lease benefited Mr. Ghosn and not the officially declared passengers, it initiated an internal investigation and filed a criminal complaint in Turkey," she added.

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

According to a Reuters witness, the pilots and other detainees, including two ground personnel and a cargo worker, were brought to court on Friday after making statements to the police.

Late Friday, the court ruled to officially arrest five of the suspects, the state news agency Anadolu reported. According to media reports, the other two suspects have been released from custody.

Turkish Interior Ministry spokesman Ismail Catakli told reporters on Friday that Ghosn was believed to have been transported through the cargo area of ​​the airport in Istanbul, but gave no further details.

Ghosn has announced that he will speak publicly about his escape on January 8.

Some Lebanese media have published reports similar to the Wall Street Journal to a Houdini-like report of how Ghosn was put in a wooden container for musical instruments after a private concert in his home, but his wife called the report "fiction."

According to the NHK, police suspect that Ghosn has left home to meet someone before driving to an airport. Under the terms of his bail, Ghosn had to install surveillance cameras at the entrance to his house.

(Writing by Jonathan Spicer and Daren Butler; Editing by David Dolan, Jon Boyle and Tom Brown)