If the pandemic hadn’t enveloped all possible news cycles this year, it’s quite likely that former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn would be the subject of great scrutiny for shipping himself in a roadie case from Japan to his eventual destination in Beirut in order to avoid trial on charges of alleged financial misconduct. But since the businessman pulled off his Houdini-of-the-boardroom escape on December 29 of last year, he has largely avoided both media attention and legal repercussions for the act, which he called a flight from “injustice and persecution” — and Japanese authorities called the illegal escape of a fugitive who purportedly hid as much as $140 million in compensation. But that may soon change.
On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that two of the dozen or so people who helped him escape were arrested for their role in the caper. According to the report, U.S. authorities have detained former green beret Michael Taylor, 59, and his son Peter Taylor, 27, for their alleged effort to escort Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon, checking in the black box he was hiding in and traveling with him from Osaka to Istanbul and eventually to Beirut. The report also includes new details of how the feat was pulled off:
Peter Taylor, now 27 years old, traveled to Japan three times in the months leading up to Mr. Ghosn’s escape, prosecutors said, with the earliest trip in July 2019. During the visits, Peter Taylor met seven times with Mr. Ghosn, according to meeting records Mr. Ghosn was required to maintain as part of his bail conditions.
On his final trip, in late December, Peter Taylor allegedly checked into a Tokyo hotel where he met for an hour with Mr. Ghosn, according to the court documents. The next day, the younger Mr. Taylor allegedly received Mr. Ghosn’s luggage at the hotel. Mr. Ghosn arrived separately and allegedly went to Peter Taylor’s room to change clothes.
Michael Taylor and [Lebanese-born U.S. citizen George Zayek] meanwhile arrived in Osaka by private jet from Dubai, bringing two large boxes that looked like they were for musical equipment, according to the court documents. The men allegedly told airport workers that they were musicians …
Later that evening, Michael Taylor and Mr. Zayek arrived at the Osaka airport, with Mr. Ghosn “hiding in one of the two large black boxes,” according to a court document. “Their baggage passed through the security check without being screened and was loaded onto a private jet,” the document says.
Once in Turkey, Mr. Ghosn boarded a second jet for Lebanon, while Michael Taylor and Mr. Zayek took a commercial flight to Lebanon, the Journal previously reported. Messrs. Taylor and Zayek were caught on video cameras going through passport control at an Istanbul airport.
Though the Taylors stayed in Lebanon for a time in order to avoid extradition from the U.S. to Japan, by late March the father and son had returned to the suburbs of Boston. Both were arrested Wednesday, shortly before Peter Taylor intended to fly to Lebanon. As another, less well-executed plot involving American mercenaries smolders in South America, federal prosecutors have requested that the elder Taylor remain in detention, as he “presents an enormous risk of flight” and that his alleged role aiding Ghosn “demonstrates his aptitude for hatching escape plans on a grand scale and his blatant disrespect for bond conditions.” As the WSJ notes, the Ghosn scandal isn’t his first brush with notoriety: “Michael Taylor previously was in the spotlight after playing a role in the 2009 rescue of New York Times reporter David Rohde from Taliban captivity in Afghanistan. He also previously served time in federal prison after pleading guilty to charges related to a bid-rigging investigation.”
The arrest of two of the figures who allegedly aided Ghosn’s departure suggests that the fugitive may not be out of the clear just yet. Earlier this month, prosecutors in Turkey prepared an indictment charging seven people, including four pilots, for orchestrating and carrying out the Istanbul-Beirut leg of his trip. Interpol also has a red notice out for his arrest and extradition — although Lebanon, where Ghosn enjoys a great deal of popularity, does not have such a treaty with Japan.