Men who helped Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn flee Japan admit role | Carlos ghosn
Two Americans accused of helping former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn flee Japan amid financial misconduct charges told court they were part of a scheme to allow him to flee the country.
Statements by Michael Taylor and his son Peter on the day their trial in Tokyo opens suggest the couple do not consider fighting the charges of assisting a criminal, which carry a sentence of up to go up to three years in prison.
Keiji Isaji, one of the Taylor’s lawyers, told The Associated Press after the hearing that he wanted the trial “to go smoothly.” He said ending the trial quickly was “in the best interests of his clients.”
He declined to confirm that his team hoped for a conditional sentence if they were found guilty, meaning no sentence would be served. He stressed that the decision was up to the judge.
The Taylors seemed calm as they were led into the courtroom in handcuffs, ropes tied around their waists.
They said little, except to answer the judge’s questions when asked about the simultaneous interpretation relayed through headphones.
Prosecutors read a statement accusing former Green Beret Michael Taylor and Peter Taylor of organizing Ghosn’s cover-up in a musical equipment case. He was loaded onto a private jet that flew him from the western city of Osaka to Lebanon via Turkey in December 2019.
Ryozo Kitajima, one of the prosecutors, said Peter Taylor met Ghosn at a hotel on several occasions in 2019 and introduced Ghosn to his father. He said Peter Taylor received $ 562,500 in two transfers to pay for the charter of the jet and other expenses.
Peter Taylor arranged for Ghosn to change in a hotel in Tokyo. His father and another man, George-Antoine Zayek, then accompanied Ghosn to Osaka airport, Kitajima said. Zayek has not been arrested.
Prosecutors said bitcoin worth $ 500,000 was transferred from Ghosn’s son Anthony’s account to Peter Taylor in 2020, allegedly to cover the Taylor defense costs.
Prosecutors said during their detention the Taylors expressed remorse and the couple were misled into believing that helping someone skip bail was not illegal in Japan.
They said Ghosn’s wife Carole told them Ghosn was being tortured. Prosecutors quoted the Taylors as saying they had not been tortured and had been treated in a “fair and professional” manner.
The next session of the trial is set for June 29, when prosecutors will continue their questioning.
The Taylors were arrested in Massachusetts last year and extradited to Japan in March. Ghosn has French, Lebanese and Brazilian nationality and Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan. Authorities say Ghosn paid the Taylors at least $ 1.3 million (£ 920,000).
Ghosn ran Nissan Motor Co for two decades before his arrest in 2018. He was charged with falsifying securities reports by underreporting his pay and breach of trust using Nissan’s money for personal gain . He says he is innocent and says he fled Japan because he did not expect a fair trial. Over 99% of criminal cases in Japan result in convictions.
No Japanese executive has been charged in the scandal at Nissan, the Yokohama-based manufacturer of the Leaf electric car, the March subcompact and luxury Infiniti models. Extraditions between Japan and the United States are relatively rare, even for serious crimes.
The possible sentence of three years in prison is the minimum required for extradition.
Prior to his arrest, Ghosn was an auto industry star, having orchestrated Nissan’s rebound from the brink of bankruptcy after being sent to Japan by its French partner Renault in 1999.
Ghosn’s salary was cut in half, to around 1 billion yen ($ 10 million), in 2010, when Japan began demanding disclosure of high executive salaries.
The concern was that his relatively high compensation could be viewed unfavorably, as senior Japanese executives tend to be paid lower salaries than their peers in other countries.