TOKYO – Two American men accused of aiding former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn flee Japan in a loudspeaker in 2019 as he faced criminal charges were extradited from the United States on Monday to be tried in a Japanese court.
Japanese authorities said the two men, Michael Taylor, 60, a former Green Beret, and his son Peter Maxwell Taylor, 27, helped Mr Ghosn execute a daring escape from Japan that seemed straight out of a Hollywood thriller.
The auto titan had been released on bail in Tokyo, where he awaited what would have been Japan’s biggest white-collar trial in years. Accused of concealing millions of dollars in revenue from Japanese regulators, among other financial crimes, Mr. Ghosn escaped in late December 2019, taking a train to the western city of Osaka before being smuggled into a private plane to Turkey. Once there, he flew to Beirut, Lebanon, where his Lebanese citizenship protects him from extradition.
Some of those involved in his escape, which humiliated Japanese prosecutors, were not so lucky.
A Turkish court on Wednesday sentenced three men – two pilots and an executive from the company that owns the plane Mr Ghosn used to escape – to more than four years in prison for their role in the hug. The men argued they did not know Mr. Ghosn was on board the flight and that they planned to appeal the decision, according to the Associated Press.
US authorities arrested the Taylors in Massachusetts in May in response to a Japanese arrest warrant. The men fought to stop their extradition to Japan, which is allowed under a treaty with the United States, arguing that they could be subjected to treatment amounting to torture and that in all Helping someone to give up their bond is not a crime under Japanese law. .
The US courts, however, rejected their arguments. The Taylors’ legal options ran out last month after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an emergency appeal.
The men have not denied their involvement in Mr. Ghosn’s escape, and Japanese authorities have presented detailed documentation of their interactions with Mr. Ghosn before and during his flight.
Peter Taylor has met Mr. Ghosn on several occasions, including the day before the escape, Japanese authorities said. And Michael Taylor, along with another man, accompanied the ruler from Tokyo to Osaka before smuggling him to a private jet terminal and onto the plane, according to prosecutors’ accounts of the events.
Both before and after the escape, Mr Ghosn and his son, Anthony Ghosn, paid more than $ 1.3 million to the Taylors and a company they controlled, US prosecutors have said in court documents.
Since Mr Ghosn’s arrest in November 2018, Japan’s legal system has come under scrutiny for allowing the prolonged detention of criminal suspects without charge, a practice critics call “hostage justice.” .
Mr Ghosn said his arrest was in fact a political coup aimed at preventing him from merging Nissan with its French partner, Renault. He says that during his long detention he was held in solitary confinement and interrogated for hours without having access to a lawyer.
In the end, he says, he fled Japan because he didn’t think he would get a fair trial.
Another former top Nissan executive, Greg Kelly, is accused in Japan of helping Ghosn hide his pay. Mr Kelly’s trial, which began in September, is expected to continue this summer. He maintains that he is innocent.
Although Mr. Ghosn was eventually released on bail, the role of the Taylors in his escape makes it highly unlikely that they will be granted the same privilege.