TOKYO — The American father and son accused of assisting Nissan’s former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, in escaping to Lebanon while awaiting trial in Japan were sentenced to jail by a Tokyo court.
They were accused of assisting a criminal in Ghosn’s December 2019 escape, which he concealed in a large box that was carried via Turkey to Lebanon on a private plane. There is no extradition treaty between Lebanon and Japan.
Chief Judge Hideo Nirei, who handed down the sentence, said they had broken the law in a serious way, as there is now almost no prospect of putting Ghosn on trial.
“This case allowed Ghosn, a severe criminal defendant, to go overseas,” he added.
In November 2018, Ghosn was arrested in Japan on allegations of underreporting his income and breaching trust by using Nissan Motor Company funds for personal advantage. He claims that he is innocent and that he fled Japan because he could not anticipate a fair trial.
In May 2020, the Taylors were apprehended in Massachusetts and extradited to Japan in March. They apologized throughout their trial, stating Ghosn had deceived them about Japan’s criminal justice system. Michael Taylor cried and stated he was “poor,” claiming they had profited financially since the $1.3 million Ghosn gave them only covered costs, according to prosecutors.
The judge, however, Nirei, stated that the court determined that the motivation was money. He stated the Taylors had two weeks to file an appeal.
The father and son stood silently in front of the court, both dressed in black suits and accompanied by guards.
In Japan, assisting a crime carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail. Michael Taylor was sentenced to two years and ten months in prison, while his son was sentenced to two years and six months.
The Taylors’ defense asked for suspended sentences for the two, who were held in jail in the United States for ten months before being extradited.
However, Nirei claimed that the time they were detained before and during the trial should not be included as time served since they were unrelated and should be treated differently. He explained, “There is a limit to how much we can consider.”
Ghosn departed Tokyo in December 2019 and traveled to Osaka by bullet train. According to authorities, he concealed under a large box allegedly carrying audio equipment at a hotel there, which had air holes drilled in it so he could breathe.
Another guy, George-Antoine Zayek, is suspected of being involved in the escape but has yet to be apprehended.
Separately, Greg Kelly, a former senior Nissan executive, is on trial in Tokyo on allegations of falsifying Ghosn’s salary records. Kelly, who was detained at the same time as Ghosn, claims to be innocent as well.
Kelly’s trial, which began in September of last year, is not likely to reach a conclusion until next year. More than 99 percent of criminal cases in Japan end in convictions. Kelly faces a potential sentence of 15 years in jail if convicted on the charges.