U.S. authorities on Wednesday arrested a former Special Forces soldier and another man wanted by Japan on charges that they enabled the escape of former Nissan Motor Co boss Carlos Ghosn out of the country.
Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts said that former U.S. Green Beret Michael Taylor, 59, and his son, Peter Taylor, 27, helped Ghosn last year flee to Lebanon to avoid trial in Japan over alleged financial wrongdoing.
The two Americans are wanted by Japan officials on charges that they helped Ghosn escape the country in December after the former Nissan boss was released on bail.
Ghosn said he fled because he did not expect a fair trial, was subjected to unfair conditions in detention and was barred from meeting his wife under his bail conditions.
Ghosn has said he is innocent of allegations he under-reported his future income and committed a breach of trust by diverting Nissan money for his personal gain. He says the compensation was never decided on or received, and that the Nissan payments were for legitimate business purposes.
Michael Taylor flew into Japan on a private jet from the United Arab Emirates with another man, George-Antoine Zayek, and they brought two large black boxes with them and claimed to be musicians carrying audio equipment, according to court papers. They helped Ghosn escape to the airport by hiding him in one of the boxes, the documents say. Japanese officials had also issued a provisional warrant for Zayek’s arrest.
The men arrived at Japan's Kansai International Airport with luggage that included the two large boxes and Ghosn was inside one of them, court papers said. The luggage passed through a security checkpoint without being checked and was loaded onto a private jet headed for Turkey, the documents say. Two days later, Ghosn announced publicly he was in Lebanon.
Peter Taylor had traveled to Japan at least three times since July 2019 and met with Ghosn at least seven times during those visits, according to court records.
The Taylors were expected to appear before a judge via videoconference later Wednesday. There were no lawyers listed for them in court documents.
Earlier this month, a lawyer said Turkish prosecutors have prepared an indictment charging seven people, including four pilots and two flight attendants, over Ghosn’s escape via Istanbul to Lebanon after fleeing Japan.
The Turkish airline company MNG Jet said in January that two of its planes were used illegally in Ghosn’s escape, first flying him from Osaka, Japan, to Istanbul, and then on to Beirut. The company said its employee had admitted to falsifying flight records so that Ghosn’s name did not appear on them.