- The Nissan executive turned fugitive Carlos Ghosn fled Japan by hiding in a musical-instrument case that was too big for airport scanners, prosecutors said. He is now in Lebanon, a country that doesn’t have an extradition agreement with Japan.
- Prosecutors on Thursday issued arrest warrants for three men accused of helping Ghosn plan the escape and see it through. One of those men is a former Green Beret.
- Ghosn faced up to 15 years in prison on charges of financial misconduct but characterised bolting from Japan as his attempt to flee injustice in a country that has a high criminal-conviction rate.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn gave Japanese immigration officers the slip in December by hiding inside a musical-instrument case, according to prosecutors.
A court on Thursday issued three arrest warrants for men accused of helping Ghosn plan the daring escape, The Wall Street Journal reported. The suspects are former Green Beret Michael Taylor, 59, his son Peter Taylor, 26, and George Zayek, 60, a Lebanese-born US citizen. The trio is suspected of violating Japans’ immigration laws, according to a statement issued by Takahiro Saito, a deputy chief prosecutor in Tokyo.
On December 29, Ghosn stashed himself in a crate that was used to transport musical instruments and too big for the baggage scanners at Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, according to prosecutors. Once in the clear, he boarded a private jet, Saito said. Saito’s statement matches what has previously been reported by Business Insider.
Ghosn changed clothes in a hotel room that was booked in Peter Taylor’s name en route to the airport
According to The Wall Street Journal, Thursday marked the first time prosecutors shared details about the involvement they said Peter Taylor had. Taylor travelled to Japan four times in mid-2019 and met Ghosn each time at his lawyer’s office in Tokyo, Saito said, according to The Journal. Taylor and Ghosn also met twice in December, he added. Though prosecutors did not say where the final two meetings took place, they said they believed their purpose was to lay out the plans of Ghosn’s escape.
The last time the duo met was on December 28 – one day before Ghosn fled, Saito said. It was then that Taylor passed a hotel room key to Ghosn, he added.
The next day, Ghosn travelled from his Tokyo house to a local hotel and entered a room reserved in Taylor’s name and switched outfits before heading to Osaka, prosecutors said.
Saito said Michael Taylor and Zayek were with Ghosn when he got to Kansai airport and boarded the jet with him.
According to prosecutors, once Ghosn had evaded immigration officers by hiding in oversize luggage, the former auto executive flew to Turkey and then to Lebanon, which is his childhood home. Lebanon doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Japan.
‘They came in large numbers and forced their way in’
Ghosn faced up to 15 years in prison on charges of financial misconduct. He had already spent 130 days in jail in two separate sessions and was out on bail in April. Though he was allowed to travel within Japan, he wasn’t permitted to leave the country, prosecutors said.
Officers conducted a raid on Wednesday at the office of Junichiro Hironaka, Ghosn’s former lawyer, Saito said. The goal was to find evidence against Peter Taylor, but Saito didn’t specify what they uncovered.
“They came in large numbers and forced their way in. They came with people who could pick locks, and the areas that they couldn’t pick open, they broke,” Hironaka said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Ghosn has long maintained his innocence and cited Japan’s 99% criminal-conviction rate to cast his escape as a way to flee injustice because he believed he wouldn’t be granted a fair trial in Japan.
Saito said his office, which typically doesn’t announce the issuance of arrest warrants, made an exception in the case of the men accused of collaborating with Ghosn to make clear its view that the escape was a crime and Mr. Ghosn should have stayed in Japan to face trial.
Carlos Ghosn’s wealth and power made it ‘easy for him to flee’ Japan, prosecutors say. Meet Nissan’s disgraced former chairman, who reportedly escaped to Lebanon by stowing away in a box for musical instruments.
Fugitive former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is holed up in a blush-coloured mansion in one of Beirut’s most expensive districts after his ‘easy’ escape from Japan, according to reports. Here’s what Achrafieh is like.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.