Two Americans were found guilty of helping ousted Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn jump bail and flee Japan in 2019, a high-profile case that allowed him to escape trial over alleged financial misconduct.
On Monday, the Tokyo District Court sentenced Michael Taylor, a 60-year-old former Green Beret, to two years in prison, and his 28-year-old son Peter to one year and eight months, reports Xinhua news agency.
In Japan, the maximum penalty for helping a defendant escape is three years in prison.
When announcing the ruling, Presiding Judge Hideo Nirei said that there was no prospect of holding Ghosn’s trial because of his escape.
“In light of the seriousness of the consequences and maliciousness of the crime, the prison sentences are unavoidable,” he said.
The two had pleaded guilty and apologised for helping Ghosn escape. Their defense team had requested suspended sentences.
Tokyo prosecutors had demanded to sentence the father to two years and 10 months and the son to two years and six months in prison, saying that the Taylors’ criminal liability was “grave” because they were involved in insulting and weakening the Japanese judiciary.
The prosecutors had said that the monetary gain was the motivation of the Taylors since they received approximately $860,000 before the escape and around $500,000 after Ghosn successfully fled Japan.
In addition, after finishing escape-related preparations such as renting a private jet, the two could have the remainder of the funds provided by Ghosn, the prosecutors added.
According to the ruling, the Taylors helped Ghosn escape from his residence in Tokyo’s Minato Ward first to a hotel in Tokyo and then to another in Osaka prefecture on December 29, 2019, before heading to the Kansai International Airport.
Then, they packed Ghosn into a box, went through airport security, and flew him aboard the private jet to Turkey under the situation that they knew Ghosn was prohibited from travelling abroad due to bail conditions.
Ghosn flew to Lebanon, which is one of three countries he is a national and has no extradition treaty with Japan.
The Taylors were arrested in Massachusetts in May 2020 by US authorities at the request of Japanese prosecutors and extradited to Tokyo this March.
Ghosn, first arrested in November 2018, was accused of underreporting his compensation by millions of yen for years and misusing the automaker’s funds.
However, he has denied all charges and insisted that other company officials conspired to drive him out of the company.
Another former executive of Nissan, Greg Kelly, is on trial in Tokyo because he is suspected to assist in underreporting Ghosn’s compensation. Kelly says he is innocent.