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A Tokyo court on Monday sentenced two Americans, a former Green Beret and his son, to prison for helping the former chairman of Nissan Carlos Ghosn pull off his dramatic 2019 escape from Japan.
Michael Taylor, 60, and his 28-year-old son Peter Taylor, who had faced up to three years in prison, were sentenced to two years and one-and-a-half years, respectively.
The court said the two Americans would get credit for 90 days already served in Japan.
The duo pleaded guilty last month to charges that they smuggled Ghosn out of Japan by posing as musicians and hiding him in an equipment case in December 2019.
“This case enabled Ghosn, a defendant of serious crime, to escape overseas,” Hideo Nirei, the chief judge, said while explaining the judgement. “One year and a half has passed, but there is no prospect of the trial being held. The consequences of this case are very large.”
Prosecutors said the Taylors received $1.3 million for their services and another $500,000 for legal fees.
Ghosn, a former autos tycoon, was facing charges in Japan that he misled Nissan investors and enriched himself at his company’s expense.
The Taylor duo pleaded guilty to helping Ghosn with his daring escape in which he hid inside an audio equipment case and was flown from Tokyo to his home country, Lebanon, which doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Japan.
Ghosn has maintained his innocence and said that he fled Japan because he did not have confidence in the justice system, particularly because he’s a foreigner.
The Taylors were sent from the US to Japan in March to stand trial for their role in the escape following a months-long extradition battle in which their attorneys claimed they could face torture in Japan. They have reportedly been held in solitary confinement in the same Tokyo jail where Ghosn was detained years earlier.
The elder Taylor has a long history in international private security and aiding escapees — including helping the New York Times free one of its reporters who was kidnapped by the Taliban, according to the Times.
Michael Taylor and his son, both Americans, were paid $1.3 million for their roles in Ghosn’s escape and requested an additional $500,000 to help with legal fees after Japan sought their arrest.
To plan the escape, Michael Taylor frequently visited Ghosn’s childhood home of Lebanon in 2019, according to the outlet. Ghosn’s wife Carole reportedly sought out their help.
Ghosn, for his part, remains a fugitive in Lebanon. He faces charges in Japan that he understated his compensation in Nissan’s financial statements by $85 million over a decade and enriched himself at his employer’s expense.
Greg Kelly, a former Nissan executive who’s been accused of helping Ghosn hide his compensation, is also on trial in Tokyo. Kelly has also denied the allegations.
With Post wires
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