Fugitive's Japan departure said to be aided by ex-Green Beret

The news accounts of Carlos Ghosn's escape match the records of a Bombardier business aircraft operated by MNG Jet that took off from Osaka.
The news accounts of Carlos Ghosn's escape match the records of a Bombardier business aircraft operated by MNG Jet that took off from Osaka.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO • Carlos Ghosn was aided in his escape from Japan by an American security consultant who accompanied him on the flight out of the country, a person familiar with the matter said, while a Turkish charter jet company said on Friday that its planes were used illegally to pull off the plan.

With the new details, a clearer - if still imperfect - picture is emerging of how Ghosn, Japan's most prominent criminal defendant, managed to evade the authorities.

The American consultant, a former US Green Beret named Michael Taylor, was introduced to Ghosn by Lebanese intermediaries months ago, said the person, who asked not to be identified.

Turkish media outlets have reported that Mr Taylor and another American were the only people listed as passengers on a manifest for the flight that carried Ghosn from Japan to Turkey.

On Friday, MNG Jet, an aircraft charter company, said one of its employees had falsified records to remove Ghosn's name from the official documentation for two flights.

News outlets in Turkey reported last week that the former Nissan boss left Osaka, Japan, late on Sunday aboard a business jet and landed at Istanbul Ataturk Airport.

He then switched planes and flew to Beirut, the reports said.

The news accounts of Ghosn's escape match the records of a Bombardier business aircraft operated by MNG Jet that took off from Osaka just after 11pm local time and landed in Istanbul about 12 hours later, according to data from FlightAware, a flight-tracking service. MNG Jet said it had no indication that the flight and another to Beirut, Lebanon, were connected.

It said that it filed a criminal complaint in Turkey last Wednesday and that it "hopes that the people who illegally used and/or facilitated the use of the services of the company will be duly prosecuted".

 
 

Five people - four pilots and MNG Jet's operations manager - have been sent to pre-trial detention by a Turkish court, according to local media reports, and an official at ground services provider Havas said prosecutors had released two of its employees.

It is not clear how Ghosn, who was under heavy surveillance in Tokyo while he was out on bail, managed to elude the authorities there and made his escape to Osaka, which is roughly 530km west of the Japanese capital.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 05, 2020, with the headline 'Fugitive's Japan departure said to be aided by ex-Green Beret'. Print Edition | Subscribe