Autos

Carlos Ghosn's $350,000 getaway flight

Key Points
  • A source close to the situation told CNBC that a firm listed in Dubai agreed to pay $350,000 to MNG Jet for two flights: one from the United Arab Emirates to Osaka
  • Al-Nitaq Al Akhdhar for General Trade Limited, a firm out of Dubai, leased the getaway plane.
  • It's unclear if the company or someone else actually put up the $175,000 for use of the plane.
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As Nissan's former Chairman Carlos Ghosn made his way from Osaka, Japan, to Istanbul in a private jet, the price of the flight was likely the least of his concerns.

A source close to the situation told CNBC that a firm listed in Dubai agreed to pay $350,000 to MNG Jet for two flights: one from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to Osaka; and a second from Osaka to Istanbul. CNBC has reviewed evidence indicating an initial payment or $175,000 or half of the total cost for the two flights.

Evidence provided by the source shows a man named Dr. Ross Allen involved in securing the flight. CNBC could not confirm whether the name was an alias. Officially, Al-Nitaq Al Akhdhar for General Trade Limited, a firm out of Dubai, leased the getaway plane. It's unclear if the company or someone else actually put up the $175,000 for use of the plane.

The private jet, a Bombardier Global Express, was the perfect plane to spirit Ghosn out of Japan at 11:09 p.m. on Dec. 29. With a range of 7,077 miles, the plane would easily be able to make the 5,430-mile flight from Osaka to Istanbul.

The plane is also big enough to carry large equipment cases, including one which Ghosn allegedly hid in for the flight from Japan to Turkey, according to The Wall Street Journal. That equipment case is now in the custody of Turkish investigators, who have dusted it for fingerprints.

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MNG Jet, which operates the plane, has denied having any knowledge the Bombardier would be used to help Ghosn jump bail.

The former Nissan chairman's name is not on any of the documents leasing the aircraft. MNG Jet has filed a criminal complaint against one of its employees, Okan Kosemen, for his alleged role in helping with Ghosn's getaway. CNBC has reached out to Kosemen's attorney who declined to comment on the investigation.

A source close to the investigation confirmed a report in the Turkish daily Hurriyet that Kosemen told investigators he helped Ghosn escape because an acquaintance from Beirut threatened him.

"I was scared. I took a man from one jet and put him into the other one at the airport. I did not know who he was," Kosemen said in a statement, according to CNBC's source, who spoke condition of anonymity.

This music equipment case found in the plane that flew Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Turkey, is believed to be where the former Nissan Chairman hid for part of the flight. The case has been confiscated by investigators who have dusted it for fingerprints. Sources tell CNBC holes were drilled into the bottom of the case.

In a statement to CNBC on Tuesday, MNG said Kosemen and "someone named 'Dr. Ross Allen'" signed a contract for $350,000 for a flight from Dubai to Osaka to Istanbul. It said it received payment of half the amount. It also said its leadership did not have knowledge about the arrangement.

Ghosn, who was under arrest in Japan for more than a year, has said little about how he was able to arrange his escape. Two days after landing in Beirut and announcing he was escaping political persecution, Ghosn issued a second statement saying, "I alone arranged for my departure."

Here is MNG Jet's full statement:

MNG Jet's operation manager Okan Kosemen, who is targeted by a criminal complaint by MNG Jet for falsifying the records and transporting Carlos Ghosn without the knowledge of the leadership of MNG Jet, organised the flight Dubai-Osaka-Istanbul. The contract, which was for $350,000, was signed by Okan Kosemen on behalf of MNG Jet, and by someone called "Dr. Ross Allen" as the client, without the reference to any corporate entity.

A first instalment of $175,000 was paid from Dubai by the company Al Nitaq Al Akhdhar, a corporation unknown to MNG Jet. At the exception of this payment, MNG Jet never had any business dealings with the company Al Nitaq Al Akhdhar.

The second instalment of $175,000 for the flight Dubai-Osaka-Istanbul has not been paid so far by any entity.

Due to the on-going judicial inquiry, MNG Jet does not have access to the contract prepared by Okan Kosemen for the flight Istanbul-Beirut. No payment has been received so far by MNG Jet for this flight.

— Freelance producer Gulsah Karadag contributed to this report.

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