Standing trial in Japan, US Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son Peter replied “no” when the judge asked if there was anything wrong with the charges submitted by the Tokyo Prosecutors’ office.

FILE PHOTO: Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan and Renault chief executive, looks on during a news conference at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, in Jounieh, Lebanon on September 29, 2020.
FILE PHOTO: Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan and Renault chief executive, looks on during a news conference at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, in Jounieh, Lebanon on September 29, 2020. (Reuters Archive)

An American father and son in a Tokyo court have pleaded guilty to charges they illegally helped former Nissan Motor Co Ltd Chairman Carlos Ghosn flee Japan hidden in a box aboard a private jet in late 2019.

US Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son Peter on Monday replied "No" when the judge asked them if there was anything wrong with the charges submitted by the Tokyo Prosecutors' office. It was their first court appearance in the case.

Extradited to Japan from the United States in March, father and son are being held at the same jail in Tokyo where Ghosn was detained.

They have been held in a Tokyo detention center since arriving in Japan and could face up to three years in prison.

Prosecutors said the duo received $1.3 million for helping Ghosn flee Japan. 

READ MORE: US extradites two alleged Carlos Ghosn accomplices to Japan

Son earlier denied allegations

Peter Taylor said in a statement to a Massachusetts court in January that he met Ghosn in 2019 in Japan to pitch his digital marketing company to repair Ghosn’s tarnished reputation. He said Ghosn asked him to bring him gifts, food, and DVDs from his wife, as well as to deliver gifts, including to family members in Lebanon.

Peter Taylor also said he left Japan for Shanghai on December 29, 2019, and was not in Japan at the time of the alleged escape.

He denied he was in touch with his father at that time, according to a document from the Massachusetts District Court.

READ MORE: Turkey probes how ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn fled to Lebanon via Istanbul

Ghosn fled while out on bail

Ghosn has said he fled Japan while out on bail because he did not expect to get a fair trial. More than 99 percent of criminal cases in Japan result in convictions.

No Japanese executives have been charged in the scandal at Nissan, Yokohama-based manufacturer of the Leaf electric car, March subcompact, and Infiniti luxury models.

If convicted, the Taylors face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $2,90).

Extraditions between Japan and the US are relatively rare, even for serious crimes. The possible penalty of three years in prison is the minimum required for extradition.

Separately, the trial of another American, Greg Kelly, a former executive vice president at Nissan, is also underway at the Tokyo District Court. It began in September. Kelly says he is innocent of the charge of under-reporting Ghosn’s compensation and was only involved in finding legal ways to pay Ghosn more to prevent him from leaving the company for a rival automaker.

Before his arrest, Ghosn was an auto industry star for having orchestrated Nissan's rebound from the brink of bankruptcy after he was sent to Japan by its French alliance partner Renault in 1999.

Ghosn slashed his pay by about $10 million to half of what he’d been getting, starting in 2010, when disclosure of high executive pay became required in Japan. The concern was that his relatively high compensation might be viewed unfavorably since Japanese top executives tend to draw lower pay packages than their peers in other countries.

At the heart of Kelly's trial is the question of whether the so-called “shortfall” in Ghosn's pay violated the law in deferring compensation that should have been reported. Several high-ranking officials, including non-Japanese executives, knew about the shortfall.

READ MORE: Japan sets June trial for Americans accused in Ghosn escape

Source: TRTWorld and agencies