Two Americans are on trial in Tokyo for helping Carlos Ghosn flee in December 2019 from Japan, where the former automotive magnate was being prosecuted for alleged financial embezzlement. “I helped Carlos Ghosn escape Japan while he was on bail” with a ban on leaving the archipelago, said Tuesday, June 29 at the bar Michael Taylor in a quavering voice, according to comments reported by the Bloomberg agency, which was able to access the hearing.
“I deeply regret my actions and sincerely apologize for causing difficulties to the judicial process and to the Japanese people”, added the 60-year-old former US special forces member, who later converted to private security. Peter Taylor, 28, also expressed his regret. Both defendants bowed deeply after their statements, adopting a quintessentially Japanese gesture of apology, in an apparent attempt to gain leniency from the court.
Michael Taylor and his son were handed over in early March to Japanese prosecutors who had come to pick them up in Boston, United States. The Taylors were arrested in May 2020 by the American justice system under a Japanese arrest warrant. They then remained detained because they were considered to have a “Great risk of flight”. At the first hearing of their trial, on June 14, neither the father nor the son had contested the charges against them.
A way out of Japan
Michael Taylor also described on Tuesday how, in the course of 2020, he had been informed by family relations in Lebanon that Carlos Ghosn was looking for a way to leave Japan. In November 2018, Mr. Ghosn, then CEO of Renault, president of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors and head of the alliance between the three car groups, was arrested after landing in Tokyo and then charged for not having declared for income that Nissan was to pay him later, as well as for aggravated breach of trust.
The Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian, who pending his trial was stuck in Japan, on bail, since April 2019, had always proclaimed his innocence across the board and denounced a conspiracy at Nissan, frightened by a project of closer union with Renault, to bring it down. Since his flight from Japan (which took place under incredible circumstances, Mr. Ghosn having notably hid in a large box of audio equipment to avoid checks at the airport), the former auto industry tycoon lives permanently in Lebanon, which does not extradite its nationals. Mr. Ghosn is also involved in several investigations in France and engaged in civil litigation against Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors.
A former Nissan legal official, Greg Kelly, is also on trial in Tokyo, currently, on the part of Mr. Ghosn’s deferred payments. He faces up to ten years in prison.