Two accused in Ghosn’s escape stand trial in Japan

TOKYO (AP) — Two Americans who are charged with helping former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn flee Japan while he was facing accusations of financial misconduct agreed yesterday they took part in a scheme for him to escape the country.

Statements by Michael Taylor and his son, Peter, on the opening day of their trial in Tokyo suggest the pair don’t plan to fight charges of assisting a criminal.

That carries a possible penalty of up to three years in prison.Prosecutors read out a statement accusing Michael Taylor, a former Green Beret, and Peter Taylor of arranging to hide Ghosn in box for musical equipment. It was loaded onto a jet in the western city of Osaka that flew him to Lebanon via Turkey in December 2019. “You helped him escape,” the statement said.

After a brief discussion with Chief Judge Hideo Nirei and defence lawyers, the Taylors agreed there were no mistakes in the statement.

The Taylors were arrested in Massachusetts last year and extradited to Japan in March. Unlike the United States (US), Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan. Ghosn has French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship.

People walk in the compound of the Tokyo District Court where a trial of two Americans suspected of helping former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn flee Japan, opens in Tokyo. PHOTOS: AP
Former Nissan Motor Co chairman Carlos Ghosn

The authorities said Ghosn hired the Taylors for at least USD1.3 million. The prosecution statement said USD500,000 was to be transferred to Peter Taylor through the account of Ghosn’s son, Anthony.

Ghosn led Nissan Motor Co for two decades before his arrest in 2018. He was charged with falsifying securities reports in under-reporting his compensation and of breach of trust in using Nissan money for personal gain. He said he is innocent.

Peter Taylor said in a statement that he met Ghosn in 2019 in Japan to pitch his digital marketing company to help repair Ghosn’s tarnished reputation.

Peter Taylor said he left Japan for Shanghai on December 29, 2019, and was not in Japan when Ghosn is accused of fleeing. He denied he was in touch with his father at that time, according to a document from the Massachusetts District Court.