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Ex-special forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son Peter have admitted aiding the escape of the bailed former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn from Japan so he would avoid prosecution for financial misconduct.
The two men made their implicit confession during their first hearing after their extradition to Tokyo. They face charges for helping Ghosn skip bail and flee to Lebanon, his childhood home. If found guilty, they are looking at a sentence of up to three years in jail.
The duo, handcuffed and wearing Covid-19 masks, sat silently in the courtroom while prosecutors outlined their case. When asked by the judge, “Is there any mistake in what the prosecutor just read?” the pair said no.
Michael Taylor, 60, and his 28-year-old son Peter are accused of helping to hide Ghosn in a box designed to hold music equipment, sneaking him through security in Osaka and putting him on a private plane to Turkey, from whence he fled to Lebanon in 2019.
The US handed the pair to Japan after an American appeals court rejected their attempts to avoid extradition over claims they would face torture-like conditions in Tokyo. The Japanese authorities called it “one of the most brazen and well-orchestrated escape acts in recent history.”
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Ghosn had been on bail awaiting trial on four counts of financial misconduct. He said all the charges against him were “baseless” and claimed the real reason for his persecution was his attempt to deepen the alliance between Nissan and Renault. He was arrested in Tokyo over charges of falsifying securities reports, hiding his income, enriching himself through payments to dealerships in other countries, and a breach of trust. With Japan having a 99% conviction rate in criminal trials, he was facing up to 20 years in prison.
Ghosn is widely credited with having saved Nissan from collapse when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy nearly two decades ago, and was behind the creation of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance. He recommended that Renault bail out the Japanese firm, and in 1999, the French carmaker bought 36.8 percent of Nissan.
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