Crime /

American Father and Son Sentenced to Prison in Japan for Ghosn Escape

Michael and Peter Taylor admitted to helping Carlos Ghosn flee Japan in 2019.

Ghosn had been charged in 2018 with financial misconduct and was out on bail when he fled the country. He had been accused of under reporting his pay for years and using Nissan’s finances for his personal gain.

Michael Taylor, 60, and his son Peter Taylor, 28, were arrested in Massachusetts in May of 2020. The two men spent 10 months in custody before they were eventually extradited to Japan.

The father-son team admitted in June that they helped Ghosn escape via private plane in June.

According to Japanese authorities, Michael Taylor, a US special forces veteran, met Ghosn’s wife, Carole, in 2019 in Lebanon. She asked him to help her husband escape. Peter Taylor then traveled to Japan several times to meet with him.

Ghosn ultimately spent $860,000 on the escape plan — using funds from his marketing firm.

The elder Taylor and another accomplice, George-Antoine Zayek, acquired a large metal box that would typically be used to for audio equipment on December 29, 2019. They drilled breathing holes before allegedly meeting Ghosn at a hotel near the Kansai International Airport in Osaka.

Taylor and Zayek were later seen leaving the hotel with the metal box.

The men transported Ghosn to a private plane that travelled from Osaka to Istanbul and finally to Beirut.

“Michael Taylor was sentenced Monday to two years in prison, while his son Peter was sentenced to one year and eight months,” AP News reported.

Zayek has not been arrested. Ghosn is living in Lebanon, which does not have an extradition agreement with Japan. He said in an interview in May of 2021 that the Taylors were “collateral damage” and that he was not responsible.

Ghosn also said “he spends his days pouring over documents with lawyers preparing legal defense, teaching at a university, helping start-ups and working on his books and documentaries. It is a slower pace than the one he was used to, with the advantage of having time to enjoy coffee with his wife and talking extensively with his children,” reported ABC News.

CBS News noted that Chief Judge Hideo Nirei said the Taylors “had committed a serious violation of the law, as now there is next to no chance of putting Ghosn on trial.”

The judge also said the court found that the Taylors were motivated by money. Prosecutors claim Ghosn paid the father and son $1.3 million in total.

During the trial, they apologized and said that Ghosn had misled them regarding the Japanese criminal justice system. The elder Taylor denied they benefited monetarily and said Ghosn’s money only covered the expenses of the escape plan.

Keiji Isaji, the Taylor’s defense attorney, wanted a speedy trial. Trial in Japan can last for months — or even years. He also moved for a suspended sentence.

Judge Nirei did not uphold Isaiji’s request, however, saying that the time the Taylor’s spent in prison before the trial was not relevant and had to be treated differently.

In Japan, 99% of criminal trials end in a conviction.

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