Then-Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn speaks at the International CES consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas in 2017. File Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo
March 22 (UPI) -- Two American men were charged Monday with helping former Nissan executive and fugitive Carlos Ghosn make his elaborate escape from Japan more than a year ago, during which he hid inside of a piece of luggage and fled to Lebanon.
Japanese prosecutors in Tokyo announced the charges on Monday against Michael Taylor and his son Peter Taylor. They are charged with knowingly helping Ghosn evade charges in Japan. Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan.
The Brazilian-born Ghosn, an executive at Nissan between 1999 and 2017, had been facing criminal charges in Japan related to his financial dealings while at Nissan. Prosecutors said he underreported his income and made other illegal moves for financial benefit.
On Monday, prosecutors said the Taylors aided Ghosn in his escape in December 2019 from Japan's Kansai Airport. There, Ghosn was smuggled aboard a private jet while hiding in a case designed to hold a musical instrument. The plane, and Ghosn, then left for Lebanon, where he holds citizenship. Prosecutors say the Taylors were paid more than $1 million for helping Ghosn flee.
NHK reported Monday that security video from the day of Ghosn's escape indicates that his daughter may also have been involved in the scheme.
Michael Taylor, 60 and Peter Taylor, 28, are being held at a Tokyo jail after they were extradited by the United States earlier this month. Michael Taylor is a former special forces operative in the U.S. Army. Both men were arrested in Massachusetts a year ago.
If convicted, each of the men could spend three years in prison.
The Taylors' attorneys have spent weeks arguing against their extradition and questioned how they could be prosecuted for helping a fugitive evade charges. They also argued that the Japanese criminal justice system sometimes uses torture to extract information from suspects.
The U.S. State Department and Supreme Court disagreed and cleared the way for their extradition earlier this year.
A Turkey court last month convicted three Turkish citizens for aiding Ghosn's escape. A United Nations panel last fall ruled that Ghosn was wrongly arrested by Japanese authorities. Nissan has filed a civil lawsuit against Ghosn, seeking about $90 million in restitution.