U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor told the Tokyo court that he regretted helping Carlos Ghosn escape from Japan and said that the former Nissan Motor Company chairman should have been tried for alleged financial misconduct.
Accompanied by two guards, Taylor, who was handcuffed with his son Peter on Tuesday, bowed deeply to the three judges who decided the verdict and asked them to allow him to return to the United States to visit his disabled father.
He said in a trembling voice: “I deeply regret my actions and sincerely apologize for causing difficulties to the judicial system and the Japanese people.”
When the prosecutor asked if he thought Ghosn should stay in Japan, Taylor answered yes.
The two men pleaded guilty this month, accusing them of illegally helping Ghosn escape from Kansai Airport in western Japan in December 2019, hiding in a box on a private jet flying to Lebanon.
They were extradited from the United States to Japan in March, detained in the same prison in Tokyo where Ghosn was detained, and face up to three years in prison.
The prosecutor said that the Taylors received US$1.3 million in service fees and US$500,000 in legal fees.
Big Taylor said Tuesday that Ghosn’s cousin, his wife’s sister-in-law, helped persuade him to accept the job. He also said that after Ghosn and his wife Carol told him that Ghosn might be imprisoned in Japan for up to 15 years, he felt sympathy for them.
He said the couple told him that giving up bail in Japan is not a crime.
The Taylors’ lawyers in the United States have fought for months to prevent them from being extradited, arguing that they will not be prosecuted for helping someone “bailed out” and that they may face relentless interrogation and torture.
In Japan, suspects are interrogated in the absence of their lawyers and are often refused bail before trial.
When the prosecutor asked whether he had been treated badly in Japan, Taylor said that the prosecutor who interrogated him after his arrest was “respected and honorable.”
When he ran away, Ghosn was awaiting trial on charges of underreporting 9.3 billion yen ($84 million) in Nissan’s financial statements within 10 years, and he became rich at the expense of his employer by paying auto dealers. .
Ghosn denied wrongdoing, and is still a fugitive in his childhood hometown Lebanon, Lebanon and Japan have no extradition treaty.
The Taylors’ case in Tokyo is the latest in multiple legal proceedings worldwide since Ghosn.
Former Nissan director Greg Kelly is currently undergoing trial in Tokyo for allegedly helping to underestimate Ghosn’s damages. Nissan is suing Ghosn in another lawsuit for 10 billion yen (US$95 million). The lawsuit is slowing down in Yokohama. get on. French investigators have been questioning Ghosn in Beirut, accusing him of embezzling Renault SA funds. Last month, in a case in the Netherlands, the former executive was ordered to pay nearly 5 million euros (US$6 million) to a local subsidiary of Nissan. ).
As a former green beret, Michael has never denied that he was involved in Ghosn’s escape, and even described how he carried out this operation during an interview with Vanity Fair before his arrest. As a long-term security consultant, Michael said he had planned the operation for several months, even though he insisted that Peter had no role.
By confessing guilt and expressing remorse, the Taylors seem to be seeking a quick sentence and commutation. They have already served their sentences in the United States, but it is not clear whether this will be counted in their sentence in Japan.
According to a letter seen by Bloomberg News, the U.S. State Department stated that it would notify the Japanese government of the service hours of the Taylors so that they can be taken into account. Their verdict will be made in late July.