Tokyo – Americans Michael and Peter Taylor, father and son, who hid the former head of Renault-Nissan, Carlos GhosnIn a box of sound equipment to help him escape from Japan, he will be sentenced on Monday.
At the time, in 2019, Ghosn was released on bail pending trial in Tokyo for alleged financial fraud, and was banned from leaving the country.
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Prosecutors requested a two-year and 10-month prison sentence for Michael Taylor at a hearing earlier this month. They said the son, Peter Taylor, was expected to face two years and six months in prison.
Both pleaded guilty to charges of helping Ghosn escape to Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, in a shocking development such as the arrest of the chief executive for alleged financial crimes in November 2018.
With Ghosn remaining out of reach – because Lebanon does not extradite its citizens – Michael and Peter Taylor become targets of justice in this case.
Greg Kelly, a former Nissan boss who was arrested the same day as his boss, is also on trial in Japan, and Ghosn and Kelly have denied the charges.
How was Ghosn’s escape?
After spending more than a year in Japan free on bail for alleged financial fraud, Ghosn went to Osaka Airport on December 29, 2019 by express train. From there, he transferred to a private plane that flew to Istanbul, where he changed planes and flew to Beirut.
For Prosecutor Ryozo Kitajima, Taylors’ actions indicated that “the ability to pursue the truth has been obscured,” he argued July 2.
He notes that Ghosn’s escape was “systematically” planned over a period of more than half a year and that Michael led the operation.
Taylor’s attorney, Keiji Isaji, claims that Ghosn was the one who worked behind the scenes and did all the grand planning.
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Understand the court battle
The Taylors have been involved in court battles ever since they helped Ghosn escape. After fighting extradition charges, the two were taken to Japan in March. Both have been placed in solitary confinement in a detention center and are attending hearings at the Tokyo District Court.
The crime of harboring or allowing a criminal to escape is punishable by a maximum of three years in prison in Japan, although experts have suggested that pleading guilty, showing remorse, and cooperating with prosecutors could lead to a lighter sentence.
The two apologized to prosecutors and the Japanese judicial system at a hearing in late June. “Helping Ghosn escape was a mistake,” they both said.
Michael Taylor has never denied his involvement in Ghosn’s escape, even speaking in court about how he organized and carried out the brazen operation. Peter’s role is less clear.
According to prosecutors, the money used to pay for Ghosn’s escape was funneled through Peter’s company and he met the former Renault-Nissan boss several times, in the months leading up to and on the day of the escape.
But Peter testified in court last month that he did not know the details of when or how Ghosn was planning to escape, only learning of the former president’s trip through post-truth reports.
It remains unclear whether the length of time Taylors, who have served in the United States, will take into account in the judge’s final decision. Michael Taylor is a former Army Special Forces soldier.
The US State Department said it will inform the Japanese government of Taylor’s time so it can be taken into account, according to a letter obtained by Bloomberg News. The plaintiffs argued that the time spent should not be a reason for a lighter sentence.