The American father and son who orchestrated the elaborate escape of Carlos Ghosn from Japan in a box of audio equipment and a private jet have been sentenced by a Tokyo court to two years and 20 months in prison, respectively.
The sentence handed down to Michael Taylor, a 60-year-old Beret man, and his son Peter, 28, followed his extradition from the United States this year.
The Taylors pleaded guilty during their first appearance before a three-judge panel in Tokyo District Court last month. They had faced three years in prison and at one point tried to argue that the act of helping a person “jump the bail” was not technically a crime in a reading of the Japanese penal code.
Michael’s lawyers had also claimed that the Americans had understood that they were rehearsing for a future event in the days leading up to Ghosn’s dramatic escape. In the event, the former head of the Renault-Nissan alliance made a decision at the last minute to flee immediately.
Hideo Nirei, the lead judge in the case, said that “the two defendants have taken an unprecedented flight overseas.”
“Based on the seriousness of the case and the roles of the two individuals, a prison sentence cannot be avoided,” he added.
The sentence was in line with what legal experts had anticipated.
The Taylors can appeal the sentence in two weeks.
The ruling highlighted the shock waves that have continued to reverberate since Ghosn’s arrest on charges of financial misconduct in late 2018. The former car executive was in Tokyo on bail and had to be judged in 2020.
But he fled to Lebanon in December 2019, transforming one of the world’s most charismatic business leaders into an international fugitive and activating the arrests of several people who witnessed the escape.
Nirei said Ghosn had no intention of returning to Japan and that there was no prospect of the former executive on trial in Tokyo. “The consequences of this case are very great,” he said.
The Taylors were arrested in the United States last year and have mounted a sustained campaign to prevent extradition. Since his arrival in Tokyo, they have been awaiting trial in the same Kosuge detention center on the outskirts of Tokyo, where Ghosn spent the first 108 days after his arrest.
The American father and son spent 10 months in U.S. custody prior to his extradition, but Nirei said the period should be treated separately. The court ruled that Michael played the “lead role” in the plot, while Peter’s role was smaller but it was still “imperative” to pull out of Ghosn’s escape.
Michael said in an earlier testimony that he “had sympathy” for Ghosn after hearing how the executive had been treated by Japanese authorities after his arrest.
Peter said he participated because his godmother was a relative of the former Nissan chair. But the judge said the family relationship was far from over and concluded that the Taylors ’main motive was financial. Ghosn made $ 862,500 in wire payments to a company run by Peter, half of which was used to cover private jet rights.
Ghosn remains in Lebanon and claims his bold escape was an attempt to “flee injustice”. The former executive denies all charges against him and is the subject of an international arrest warrant issued by Japan, on which Lebanon has not yet acted.