Who are the Americans on trial in ex-Nissan boss Ghosn’s escape, Auto News, ET Auto

TOKYO (Reuters) – Americans Michael Taylor and his son Peter Taylor are on trial in Tokyo on Monday for helping former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn to waive his bail and flee to Lebanon in December 2019.


The Taylors were arrested in Massachusetts in May 2020 and extradited to Japan in March. They have not been released on bail and are not available for comment, which is the norm in Japan. They were formally charged in March with aiding a criminal escape. Michael Taylor, a former Green Beret, told The Associated Press while still in the United States that Peter was not in Japan when Ghosn fled the country. The elder Taylor has helped parents save abducted children, infiltrated for the FBI, and worked as a subcontractor for the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Ghosn ran Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. for two decades before his arrest in Tokyo in November 2018. He was charged with falsifying securities reports by underreporting his pay and breach of trust. He claims to be innocent and the compensation he is accused of not having reported has never been decided or paid. Ghosn says he was concerned about not getting a fair trial in Japan, where more than 99% of criminal cases end in convictions. Japanese prosecutors say he paid at least $ 1.3 million to organize his escape. Ghosn is on Interpol’s wanted list, but Japan does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon.


Tokyo prosecutors said Michael Taylor and another man, George-Antoine Zayek, hid Ghosn in a large box meant to carry audio equipment, took him through security at Osaka airport in the city. central Japan, and boarded a private jet for Turkey. Peter Taylor is accused of having met Ghosn to help him escape. Zayek has not been arrested. A US appeals court rejected the Taylor’s request to stay their extradition.


The Taylors will go through the Japanese equivalent of a plea before a panel of three judges. They can also make statements. They said they didn’t break any laws because skipping the bond is technically not illegal in Japan. But Ghosn was not supposed to leave the country. Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hiroshi Yamamoto said prosecutors would lay out the charges, but declined to comment specifically on the case. Japanese suspects are tried even if they plead guilty.

The Taylors are being held at the Tokyo Detention Center on the outskirts of the city. Their lawyer can visit them and they can get snacks and books. Ghosn spent more than 100 days at the center before he was released on bail. The cells are simple, with Japanese-style futon mattresses. The establishment has an exercise area and a clinic.


English translations will be provided and media coverage is permitted, but no filming or recording. If found guilty, the Taylors face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 300,000 yen ($ 2,900). They could also get conditional sentences and not serve a sentence. In principle, people accused of crimes in Japan are presumed innocent until proven guilty. But the conviction rate is over 99%.


Former Nissan executive Greg Kelly, also American, is on trial for falsifying securities reports by underreporting Ghosn’s salary. He says he is innocent and was trying to find legal ways to pay Ghosn, in part to prevent him from leaving Nissan for a rival automaker. Kelly’s trial began in September and a verdict is not expected for months. If convicted, Kelly faces up to 15 years in prison.


During the interview in Lebanon in May, Ghosn told The Associated Press he was eager to clear his name. He declined to give details of his escape. Ghosn accuses other Nissan executives of plotting to force him out to prevent him from giving his French partner, Renault, more power in their alliance. Renault sent Ghosn to Japan in 1999 to rescue the automaker from the brink of bankruptcy.


Nissan, which makes the Leaf electric car, Z sports car and luxury Infiniti models, struggled as sales slumped during the pandemic. He expects to remain in the red this year, the third consecutive year of losses. Ghosn’s successors have promised a turnaround.

A US lawyer on trial in Japan on charges related to the disclosure of compensation for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn on Wednesday proclaimed his innocence, testifying that he acted legally and in Nissan’s best interests.

A timeline of key events that began with the sale of Carlos Ghosn to Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. by its French alliance partner, Renault SA


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