Carlos Ghosn escape: Special forces veteran and son jailed over car boss Japan flight

A US special forces veteran and his son have been jailed in Japan for helping former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn flee to Lebanon.

Michael Taylor was given a two-year sentence while his son Peter was handed a term of one year and eight months by a Tokyo court.

The men had admitted their roles at a previous court appearance, after being extradited to Japan earlier this year.

Mr Ghosn, once a titan of the global car industry, was arrested in November 2018 over allegations of financial misconduct – which he denies.

While on bail awaiting trial the following year he fled the country for Lebanon, the country which had been his childhood home – and which does not have an extradition treaty with Japan.

The Taylors last month pleaded guilty and made a tearful apology, saying they regretted their role in smuggling Mr Ghosn out of Japan hidden in a box aboard a private jet from Japan’s Kansai airport at the end of 2019.

Sentencing the pair, chief judge Hideo Nirei said: “This case enabled Ghosn, a defendant of serious crime, to escape overseas.

“One year and a half has passed, but there is no prospect of the trial being held.”

Prosecutors said the Taylors received $1.3m for their services and another $500,000 for legal fees.

It was alleged that Mr Ghosn’s wife Carole had made contact, claiming her husband had been tortured at the hands of interrogators.

Michael Taylor, 60, is a veteran of the special forces army unit known as the Green Berets.

Since leaving the forces, his work has included that of a private security specialist.

In the past he has been hired to rescue abducted children.

Mr Taylor senior described the escape plan in detail in an interview with Vanity Fair last year and said he did it “to liberate the oppressed”.

Last month’s court hearing was told he and his son said they had been misled to believe helping someone jump bail was not illegal in Japan.

Mr Taylor senior and another man who has not been detained were alleged by the authorities in Toyko to have chartered a jet to Japan with two large boxes in a ruse that they were musicians with audio equipment.

Mr Ghosn was said to have met Peter Taylor at a Tokyo hotel before the others joined them.

As the younger Mr Taylor flew to China, the other three are said to have taken a bullet train to another hotel near Osaka airport.

They all went into a room but only two came out.

Prosecutors say Ghosn was inside one of the boxes – which passed through security without being checked.

Mr Ghosn, who before his downfall led both Japan’s Nissan and France’s Renault in a global alliance, faces charges that he understated his pay in Nissan’s financial statements by 9.3 billion yen (£60m) over a decade and enriched himself at his employer’s expense through payments to car dealerships in the Middle East. He denies the charges.

Mr Ghosn said after his escape from Japan that he had been facing “injustice and persecution”.

In an interview this year he likened his downfall to being “hit by a bus”.

Separately, Greg Kelly, a former Nissan executive charged with helping Mr Ghosn hide his compensation, is also on trial in Tokyo. He also says he is innocent.

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