Explainer: who are the Americans on trial for Ghosn’s escape?

Americans Michael Taylor and his son Peter Taylor are on trial in Tokyo on Monday on suspicion they helped former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn leave bail and escape to Lebanon in December 2019

TOKYO — American Michael Taylor and his son Peter Taylor, at trial in Tokyo Monday, helped former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn escape bail in December 2019 to Lebanon.

How did Tailors end up in Japan?

What happened to Ghosn?

Ghosn headed Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co for two decades before his arrest in Tokyo in November 2018. He was charged with underreporting his compensation and falsifying securities reports with breach of trust. He states that he is innocent and that the compensation he is accused of not reporting was never decided or paid. Ghosn says he fears he won’t have a fair trial in Japan, where more than 99% of criminal cases result 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 has no extradition treaty with Lebanon.

run in a box

Tokyo prosecutors say Michael Taylor and another man, George-Antoine Zayek, hid Ghosn in a large box carrying audio equipment, snatched him through airport security in Osaka, central Japan and Loaded him on a private jet to Turkey. Peter Taylor is accused of meeting Ghosn to help him escape. Jayak has not been arrested. A US appeals court rejected Taylor’s plea to block his extradition.

court proceedings

Taylor will go through the Japanese equivalent of filing a petition before a three-judge panel. They can also make statements. He has said that he has not broken any laws because giving up bail is not technically illegal in Japan. But Ghosn was not to leave the country. Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hiroshi Yamamoto said prosecutors would outline the charges, but declined to comment specifically on the case. Japanese suspects are prosecuted, even if they are guilty.

The tailors are housed at the Tokyo Detention Center on the outskirts of the city. Their lawyers can visit them, and they can get snacks and books. Ghosn spent more than 100 days at the center before being released on bail. The cells are simple with a Japanese-style futon mattress. The facility has an exercise area and clinic.

what lies ahead?

English translations will be provided and media coverage is allowed, but no filming or recording. If convicted, Taylor faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 300,000 yen ($2,900). He could also get a suspended sentence and not be given time. In theory, people accused of crimes in Japan are presumed innocent until proven guilty. But the conviction rate is over 99%.

another american

Former Nissan executive Greg Kelly, also an American, is being prosecuted for falsifying securities reports to understate Ghosn’s pay. He states that he is innocent and was trying to find legal ways to pay Ghosn, partly 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 could face up to 15 years in prison.

What does Ghosn say?

During an interview in Lebanon in May, Ghosn told the Associated Press that he was eager to clear his name. He declined to give details about his escape. Ghosn accused other Nissan executives of conspiring to force him to stop giving his French partner Renault more power in their alliance. Renault sent Ghosn to Japan to rescue the automaker in 1999, when it was on the verge of bankruptcy.

How’s Nissan doing?

Nissan, which makes the Leaf electric car, the Z sportscar and the Infiniti luxury model, has struggled with declining sales during the pandemic. The deficit is expected to remain in the red mark for the third consecutive year in this financial year. Ghosn’s successors have promised a change.


Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter


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