British ex-serviceman linked to Ghosn's escape

TOKYO • Carlos Ghosn's escape from Japan to Lebanon has drawn in a British former military man who found wealth in post-war Iraq providing aviation and fuel services, the Financial Times (FT) reported.

A US$175,000 (S$236,000) invoice for a private jet that flew the former Nissan Motor executive from Osaka to Istanbul was paid on Dec 26 by Al-Nitaq al-Akhdhar for General Trade, a company linked to former serviceman Mike Douglas, the newspaper said, without saying where it got the information.

Mr Douglas, chief executive officer of Dubai-based SKA International, told the newspaper that any payment made was for logistics or cargo business, and not to charter any aircraft. "So as far as I'm concerned, we're not involved," the FT quoted him as saying.

A further sum of US$175,000 owed to MNG Jet, the Turkish charter firm that supplied planes for Ghosn, has not been paid, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the matter. It said the escape cost Ghosn about US$20 million in expenses and forfeited bail money.

The FT report comes as the Japanese authorities piece together how Ghosn was able to evade surveillance and airport security.

Snippets have emerged suggesting that he also took advantage of loopholes in security at Japan's Kansai airport.

He appears to have left his residence in Tokyo, which was monitored by surveillance cameras under his bail conditions, alone.

He reportedly later met up with two United States citizens and boarded a bullet train to Osaka on Dec 29.

In Osaka, he is said to have been put into a large box with holes drilled into it to ensure he could breathe and then loaded onto a private jet that flew to Istanbul.

Airport security rules meant that large items loaded onto private planes were exempt from screening - a loophole that appears to have allowed Ghosn to escape unnoticed.

In Istanbul, he boarded a second private jet that took him to Lebanon, where he entered with a French passport.

Under his bail conditions, his French, Lebanese and Brazilian passports were confiscated and held by his lawyers.

But he was allowed to retain a second French passport - in a locked case with the key held by his lawyers - so that he could prove his short-term visa status if needed when travelling in Japan - which was allowed in the terms of his bail.

The Tokyo District Court said yesterday that Ghosn has forfeited his 1.5 billion yen (S$18.6 million) bail bond, according to Kyodo News.

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2020, with the headline 'British ex-serviceman linked to Ghosn's escape'. Print Edition | Subscribe