An American father and son duo pleaded guilty on Monday to aiding former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan, while he faced charges of financial misconduct.
Japanese authorities indicted Michael Taylor, a US Army Special Forces veteran, and his son Peter Taylor on charges of harboring or enabling the escape of a criminal. They allege that the Taylors had key roles in planning and executing an elaborate escape in which they helped Ghosn break house arrest, travel from Tokyo to Osaka via bullet train, and finally board a private plane hidden in an audio speaker box. The plane first flew to Turkey and then to Ghosn’s childhood home in Beirut, Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.
Prosecutors say the pair received USD $1.3 million for their services. They also allege that Ghosn’s son transferred $500,000 worth of Bitcoins to Peter Taylor, purportedly to cover defense costs.
The father and son both responded “no” when Chief Judge Hideo Nirei asked whether there were any mistakes in the charges submitted by the Tokyo Prosecutor’s office.
The Taylors were arrested in May 2020 in Massachusetts. Following an extradition request—granted by the US Supreme Court in February—the Taylors are being held at the same Japanese jail where Ghosn was originally detained.
If convicted, the Taylors face up to three years in prison. Their trial is set to continue on June 29, when prosecutors will continue questioning and cross-examination will begin.
Monday’s plea is the latest in a series of cases surrounding Ghosn’s escape. Grey Kelly, another former Nissan executive, is on trial in Tokyo for allegedly helping Ghosn hide his true earnings. According to The Japan Times, French investigators have also been questioning Ghosn in Lebanon on accusations that he siphoned funds from Renault SA, a French multinational car manufacturer. Additionally, Nissan announced a $90 million lawsuit against Ghosn in February.