Carlos Ghosn’s “escape” from Japanese authorities has been absolutely nothing but entertaining to the average reader, but the matter of the fact is that the struggle to arrest him is not over.
An arrest warrant was issued last week for Nissan’s former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who had infamously skipped bail and fled the country while awaiting trial in Japan.
He is now in Lebanon, and Lebanese authorities have indicated earlier this month that they have no plans to hand him over to the Japanese.
At this stage, Japan does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon, so there is little chance for his arrest.
However, Tokyo prosecutors are currently working their way around this fact amid issuing arrest warrants for three Americans they said having assisted and planned Ghosn’s escape: Michael Taylor, George Zayek, and Peter Taylor.
As Naharnet reports, Deputy Chief Prosecutor Takahiro Saito has said Michael Taylor and George Zayek are suspected of helping Ghosn flee by hiding him in luggage at an airport in Japan, and getting him into a private jet to leave the country.
Saito declined to confirm whether or not Japan has already sought the cooperation of U.S. criminal investigators, although he said all options were being explored. Japan and the U.S. do in fact have the extradition treaty, which would make these arrests possible.
According to Saito, Peter Taylor is suspected of having met several times with Ghosn in Tokyo, starting in July last year, to plot the escape. He was given a key to a hotel room in Osaka, in central Japan, where Kansai Airport is located.
Indeed, Ghosn flew out of Kansai International Airport in Osaka. Prosecutors have stated that he clearly broke the law by leaving the country, defying bail conditions that required him to stay in Japan.
Ghosn has publically maintained his innocence and has denounced all of the allegations against him. Allegations include under-reporting his future income and breach of trust in allegedly diverting Nissan money for his personal gain.
He says the compensation was never decided or received, and the Nissan payments were for legitimate business purposes. He has said he left Japan because he could not expect a fair trial within the “unjust” Japanese system, and bail conditions prevented him from seeing his wife for months.
On the reason why he is currently under investigation, Ghosn has said Nissan Motor “drove him out” in order to prevent a fuller merger with French alliance partner Renault. Ghosn led Nissan for two decades.
His theatrical flight has been a complete and total embarrassment for Japanese authorities that allowed a wanted man to leave their country quite easily. Surveillance cameras at his home and on streets even showed him leaving the home.
The current repercussions for Ghosn’s leaving the country are not too steep. The maximum penalty under Japanese law for illegally leaving the country is one year in prison or $2,750 in fines.
The maximum penalty for hiding a criminal or helping a criminal escape is three years in prison or $2,750 in fines.