Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has covered up for his close friend Mehmet Nazif Gunal, head of the MNG Holdings, in the scandal surrounding the escape of Lebanese-Brazilian businessman Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon via Istanbul.
The Bakirkoy Court in Istanbul was satisfied with accepting the indictment that was presented by the public prosecutor last week, in which it demanded imprisonment for various periods, not exceeding eight years, for each of the four pilots and an airline official on charges of illegally smuggling Ghosn, imprisoning a one-year sentence for each of the hosts for not reporting Ghosn’s flight from Osaka to Beirut on December 30, 2019.
The indictment states that Ghosn is believed to have been smuggled in a musical instrument box large enough to carry a person measuring 1.7 meters long.
The Turkish regime did not disclose how two MNG planes were operated without the approval of the company’s senior managers and carried out at a very safe airport, merely presenting the aforementioned defendants as scapegoats for the real perpetrators, as the general manager of the airline was not charged. The airline’s mother company, affiliated with Gunal, who is close to the Turkish president, was also spared investigation.
It is interesting that the Ghosn escape plane then transported gold to Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro, a close Erdogan ally.
On January 3, Bloomberg News reported that two planes operated by MNG Holding were suspected of smuggling Ghosn and also helped in the gold trade between the heavily banned Venezuelan government and Istanbul.
“The charges against the pilots and other employees are an attempt to cover up in a state of panic,” said Faruk Bayındır, the former owner of the private Tarkim Airlines.
He added that it is impossible for the owners and operators of aircraft to not know such an international plan to bring a businessman fleeing to Turkey from Japan and transfer him to Lebanon.
Bayındır said that he spent years in the field of aviation in Turkey and that no person could perform such an operation without an order from influential people within the Turkish government.
It is worth noting that Erdogan’s friend Gunal, founder of MNG Holding, has close links to Lebanon and the Hariri family. In 2007, Meed Bank, owned by the Hariri family and the Arab Bank, bought 91% of MNG Holding shares, and Gunal held 9% of the shares, which were renamed Turkland Bank (T-Bank), receiving $160 million in sales.
Gunal’s name also appeared during a banking crisis in the 1990s that led to the collapse of the center-right government at the time, as he was close to then-Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz and mafia leaders at the time, led by Alaattin Çakıcı. In a monitored conversation with Turkish businessman Korkmaz Yiğit, who invested in several industries, including banking and the media, they were talking about well-known mafia leader Alaattin Çakıcı, who described Gunal as a close friend.
Ghosn was arrested for alleged financial violations in Tokyo in 2018, and he was released on bail while the case was pending in Japan late last year.
He then flew to Istanbul and was then transferred to another plane bound for Beirut, where he arrived on December 30. In turn, Turkish airline MNG Jet reported in January that two of its planes were used illegally to smuggle Ghosn, who was first transported from Osaka, Japan to Istanbul, then to Beirut.
The company said that its employee admitted to forging flight records so that Ghosn’s name did not appear.
The indictment also stated that Ghosn had been smuggled inside an instrument case large enough to carry a person who is 1.7 meters long.