TOKYO – Two Americans accused in Japan of helping former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn escape bail and flee Japan for Lebanon apologized in a Tokyo court Tuesday.
“I deeply regret my actions and sincerely apologize for causing difficulties for the judicial process and the Japanese people. I am sorry,” said Michael Taylor, a former Green Beret, bowing and holding back sobs.
Taylor, on trial in Tokyo District Court with his son Peter, said in response to questioning by his lawyer and prosecutors that Ghosn and his wife, Carole Ghosn had misinformed him.
Carole Ghosn told Taylor that her husband was “tortured” and grilled in solitary confinement, she said. Ghosn also said he was being mistreated, Taylor said.
Taylor said they have treated him well in Japan.
“I didn’t know much about Japan. All I know is that the Japanese are the friendliest people I’ve ever come across,” he said.
At the beginning of their trial earlier this month, the Taylors indicated that they were not fighting the allegations, in the Japanese equivalent of pleading guilty. They were arrested in Massachusetts last year and extradited to Japan in March.
Peter Taylor, who allegedly met with Ghosn to plan the escape, also apologized in court for the “trouble” he had caused.
“I must apologize to the people of Japan,” said Peter Taylor, bowing to a three-judge panel.
“After more than 400 days in jail, I have had a lot of time to reflect. I take full responsibility and deeply apologize. I am sorry,” he said.
If convicted of helping a criminal, the Taylors face up to three years in prison. Japanese trials often drag on for months, and their defense team has indicated that they want the trial to end as soon as possible. Showing remorse for wrongdoing is considered crucial for defendants waiting for judicial leniency.
Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades, was arrested in November 2018 and charged with financial misconduct, including falsifying securities reports to not report his future compensation, and breach of trust by using Nissan money for personal gain. .
He says he is innocent, arguing that compensation was never decided or paid and that the expenses were legitimate for his work.
Ghosn hid in a box for musical equipment and left Japan on a private jet in December 2019. He is now in Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.
The Taylors, who have not been granted bail, are accused of playing a leading role in that escape. Prosecutors have described details of wire transfers and bitcoin payments, alleging that Ghosn paid the Taylors the equivalent of more than $ 1 million.
While in detention, prosecutors questioned Ghosn without the presence of a lawyer, although he was allowed visits from lawyers. That’s standard in Japan, where more than 99% of criminal cases end with guilty verdicts. Critics often point to human rights abuses in the judicial system.
Another American and former senior Nissan executive, Greg Kelly, is on trial in Tokyo on charges of failing to report on Ghosn’s compensation. Kelly says that he is innocent and that he was just trying to pay Ghosn legally.