Nissan Motor Co. chairman Carlos Ghosn was smuggled out of Japan in a corporate escape plot worthy of Hollywood. Fifteen months later, the American man accused of orchestrating his clandestine exit arrived back in the country with his son to face charges.
Japanese authorities said they took custody of Michael Taylor and his son Peter in Massachusetts, after the U.S. authorized their extradition for concealing Ghosn inside a large black box as he fled criminal charges in December 2019. Prosecutors in Tokyo confirmed their arrival after they landed at Narita International Airport Tuesday on a 14-hour flight from Boston.
A role reversal months in the making was finally complete. The Taylors face a possible three-year sentence in Japanese prison. Meanwhile, Ghosn is a free man in Lebanon.
Prosecutors in the U.S. and Japan have cast the Taylors as master escape artists. And after their arrest in May, the father-son duo did everything they could to stop the extradition. They battled in court and hired lawyers and lobbyists to wage the kind of influence campaign that allowed so many well-connected people to avoid legal trouble in the Trump era. But in the end, the Taylors could find no way out.
What follows is an account of the fallout from the Ghosn escape, an audacious operation that allowed the Nissan chief to evade the authorities but also resulted in the Taylors’ capture. It's based on emails, texts and court documents, as well as interviews with more than a dozen people familiar with the case, most of whom asked not to be identified discussing private conversations.
In interviews from jail in January and February, the 60-year-old Michael Taylor, a former Green Beret, said he felt betrayed by the government he once served. “Clearly, Americans don't really care about their people,’’ he said. “And their elected officials don't care about military veterans.”
The Justice Department and the State Department declined to comment on the Taylors’ case. Japanese Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa also declined to comment earlier Tuesday at a news conference.