The father-son team who smuggled Carlos Ghosn out of Japan in a large musical-equipment case was sentenced to time in prison for their role in helping Nissan Motor Co.’s former chairman flee trial in 2019.
Michael Taylor, 60, the father and a former U.S. Green Beret, received a sentence of two years by the three-judge panel on Monday at the Tokyo District Court. His 28-year-old son, Peter Taylor, received a one-year and eight-month sentence, they said.
Both pleaded guilty last month to charges of aiding Ghosn’s escape to Beirut, a development that was just as shocking as the November 2018 arrest of the auto executive for alleged financial crimes. With Ghosn out of reach — Lebanon doesn’t extradite its citizens — the pair has become a proxy for Ghosn and his case. So has Greg Kelly, a former Nissan director who was detained on the same day as his boss and is facing trial in Japan. Ghosn and Kelly have denied allegations of understating the auto executive’s compensation.
After spending more than a year in Japan and free on bail, Ghosn made his way to Osaka’s Kansai Airport on Dec. 29, 2019, by bullet train. From there, he was rolled on to a private jet that flew to Istanbul, where he switched planes and made his way to Beirut.
The actions of the Taylors mean the “the ability to go after the truth has been blocked,” Prosecutor Ryozo Kitajima argued on July 2. Ghosn’s escape was “systematically” planned over the course of more than half a year and while Michael Taylor led the operation, his son Peter’s role was also significant, he said. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of more than two years for each.
Defense lawyers for the Taylors, who were detained for about 10 months in the U.S. before their extradition, pushed for a suspended sentence. Ghosn was the one behind the scenes and did all the major planning, Keiji Isaji, an attorney for the Taylors, said in a prior hearing.
The Taylors have been embroiled in legal battles since helping Ghosn escape. After fighting extradition charges, the pair were brought to Japan in March. The two were placed in solitary confinement in a detention center as they attended trial at the Tokyo District Court.
In Japan, the crime of harboring or enabling the escape of a criminal carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
The duo apologized to prosecutors and Japan’s justice system in a hearing in late June. Helping Ghosn flee was a mistake, they both said. Michael Taylor has never denied his involvement in Ghosn’s escape, speaking in court about how he organized and carried out the brazen operation. Peter’s role is less clear.
Money used to pay for Ghosn’s escape was transferred through Peter’s company and he met with the former auto executive several times in the months leading up to, and on the day of, the escape, according to prosecutors. But Peter testified in court last month that he didn’t know the details of when or how Ghosn was planning to escape, and only learned of the former chairman’s flight via reports after the fact.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.