Authorities say this Dec. 30, 2019, image from security camera video shows Michael Taylor, center, and George-Antoine Zayek at passport control at Istanbul Airport in Turkey. Taylor, a former Green Beret and his son, Peter Taylor, 27, were arrested Wednesday in Massachusetts on charges they smuggled Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn out of Japan in a box in December 2019, while he awaited trial there on financial misconduct charges. / Getty Images
BEIRUT — Japan's deputy justice minister met top officials in Lebanon on Monday over the case of Nissan's fugitive ex-boss, Carlos Ghosn, who fled to his home country late last year while on bail in Japan and awaiting trial.
Ghosn was arrested in late 2018 and is facing charges of under-reporting income and breach of trust. He says he is innocent. He led Nissan for nearly 20 years.
This security camera image shows men identified as Michael Taylor and George Zayek during their checkpoint processing at the Istanbul Airport in Istanbul, Turkey. They are suspected of smuggling Carlos Ghosn out of Japan to Lebanon via Istanbul. TOKYO — Tokyo prosecutors issued an arrest warrant Thursday for Nissan's former chairman Carlos Ghosn, who skipped bail while awaiting trial in Japan and is now in Lebanon. Japan has no extradition treaty with Lebanon, so he's unlikely to be arrested. Lebanon has indicated it will not hand over Ghosn. Tokyo prosecutors also issued arrest warrants for three Americans they said helped and planned his escape, Michael Taylor, George-Antoine Zayek and Peter Taylor. Deputy Chief Prosecutor Takahiro Saito declined to say where the three men were thought to be staying. He said Michael Taylor and George Zayek are suspected of helping Ghosn flee by hiding him in cargo at a Japanese airport and getting him into a private jet to leave the country. Saito would not say if Japan has asked U.S. authorities for help, though he said all options were being explored. Japan and the U.S. have an extradition treaty. Michael Taylor is a former Green Beret and private security specialist. Peter Taylor appears to be his son. Security footage released earlier showed Zayek and Taylor transiting Istanbul Airport at the same time Ghosn allegedly passed through Turkey on his way to Beirut. Prosecutors suspect Peter Taylor met several times with Ghosn in Tokyo, starting in July last year, to plot his escape. Saito said Ghosn was given a key to a hotel room in Osaka near the Kansai Airport that Ghosn left from. Prosecutors say Ghosn broke the law by violating bail conditions that required him to stay in Japan, mostly at his Tokyo home. "We want to stress that the act of fleeing was clearly wrong," Saito told reporters. "We need to erase the misunderstanding." Separately, Saito said prosecutors on Wednesday forced open a lock to search the Tokyo office of Ghosn's former defense lawyer Junichiro Hironaka for records of people Ghosn met with while out on bail, and other materials. Prosecutors are asking a judge for help in accessing contents of a computer Ghosn used at Hironaka's office that the lawyer has refused to hand over, citing attorney-client privilege. Ghosn has said he is innocent of allegations he under-reported his future income and committed a breach of trust by diverting Nissan money for his personal gain. He says the compensation was never decided on or received, and the Nissan payments were for legitimate business purposes. Ghosn has lashed out at the Japanese judicial system, saying he fled because he could not expect a fair trial, was subjected to unfair conditions in detention and was barred from meeting his wife under his bail conditions. He contends others at Nissan Motor Co., which he led for two decades, drove him out to prevent a fuller merger with its French alliance partner Renault. Ghosn's dramatic escape, while under the watch of surveillance cameras inside and outside his home, is an embarrassment for Japanese authorities. He is believed to have traveled by train to Osaka and then left via Kansai Airport, reportedly by hiding in a box for audio or musical equipment. Ghosn has not shared specifics of his escape. The maximum penalty under Japanese law for illegally leaving the country is one year in prison or 300,000 yen ($2,750) in fines, or both. The maximum penalty for hiding a criminal or helping a criminal escape is three years in prison or 300,000 yen ($2,750) in fines.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz became a triple Dakar Rally champion with the Mini X-Raid team at the age of 57 on Friday, while American Ricky Brabec took the motorcycle crown for Honda and ended KTM's 18-year dominance. Brabec is the first American to win the Dakar on two wheels since the grueling endurance event started from Paris through the Sahara desert to the Senegalese capital in West Africa in 1979. Both were also the first winners in Saudi Arabia, a country making its debut as host of an event staged in South America for the past decade. Two times world rally champion Sainz, whose son and namesake races in Formula One for McLaren, ended the final timed stage with a 6 minutes and 21 seconds advantage over Qatar's defending champion Nasser Al Attiyah. Sainz also won Dakar in 2010 and 2018. His three victories have been with different car manufacturers, the first coming with Volkswagen and the second in a Peugeot. "We started winning this Dakar on day one, and we have gone flat out from the beginning," said Sainz, hailed by his son on Twitter as a legend. Brabec had started four previous Dakars, but Friday was only his second finish. "At the end, we put the pieces to the puzzle together," said the American after an event marred by the death of Portuguese rider Paulo Goncalves in a fall last Sunday. "I woke up this morning just happy to ride the last day. And we're here. We won. We had to be smart and focused every day. There's no top guy on the team, we all work together, we're a family. We all won." Triple champion Al Attiyah won the final stage to finish as overall runner-up for Toyota with Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel, a 13 times winner on two and four wheels and Sainz's team mate, completing the top three in his 31st Dakar. "I'm coming back to win next year. I just needed a bit more luck," said the Qatari, who applauded and embraced Sainz at the finish. Two times Formula One champion Fernando Alonso, a Dakar rookie, was fourth in the final stage and finished 13th overall for Toyota. Australian Toby Price, the 2019 motorcycle winner and leading KTM rider, finished third overall behind Chilean Pablo Quintanilla. "It's not the result we came for, but I'm quite glad. Every time that I've lined up and I've made the finish line, I've been on a podium step," said Price. "This, for me, is a big achievement, especially after these two weeks being tough. We just regroup and get ready for the Dakar 2021 and we come back here to try and get that number one plate back." In the truck category, Russian Andrey Karginov took his second Dakar crown in a Kamaz one-two with compatriot and team mate Anton Shibalov. Chile's Ignacio Casale was the quad champion for a third time while American Casey Currie won the lightweight side-by-side (SSV) category introduced in 2017.
TOKYO — Japanese attorneys representing Carlos Ghosn, including lead lawyer Junichiro Hironaka, quit on Thursday following the former Nissan chief's flight to Lebanon from Japan, where he had been fighting financial misconduct charges. Hironaka had been representing Ghosn in his defense against financial misconduct charges. His move, announced Thursday, was widely expected after Ghosn escaped to Lebanon late last month. A second lawyer in Ghosn's three-person legal team, Takashi Takano, also quit on Thursday, according to an official at his office. A person who answered the telephone at the office of the third lawyer, Hiroshi Kawatsu, said she did not know if he still represented the former automotive executive. Hironaka said in a statement that the entire team working on the case at his office will quit but did not outline reasons. He has said before he felt some empathy for Ghosn's reasons for escape, while stressing he had hoped to win vindication in court. Hironaka is respected for winning high-profile cases in this nation where the conviction rate is higher than 99%. Among the cases he has handled is that of Atsuko Muraki, a Welfare Ministry official accused of falsely approving a group to qualify for mail discounts. She was acquitted in 2010. Also Thursday, Nissan released steps it was taking to prevent a recurrence of Ghosn's scandal, and reiterated its denouncement of Ghosn. The automaker said in a report submitted to the Tokyo Stock Exchange that Ghosn had the authority to "single-handedly" determine directors' compensation and such information was not shared with other departments at the company. The underreporting of his future compensation is among the allegations Ghosn faced in Tokyo. In a news conference last week in Beirut, Ghosn insisted again that he was innocent of the charges, which also included breach of trust in diverting Nissan money for his personal gain. He said he fled because he felt he could not expect a fair trial in Japan. Ghosn's flight while he was out on bail awaiting trial means his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely. Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France. Ghosn, who has signed on an international team of lawyers, has expressed willingness to stand trial in Lebanon. Nissan also said that Ghosn obtained compensation from a venture company in the Netherlands set up Mitsubishi, a smaller Japanese automaker with which Nissan set up an alliance under Ghosn. Ghosn has denied wrongdoing about the spending at the venture. Nissan said independent outside directors had been added to its board. It denied recent reports about troubles in the Renault alliance, and has stressed the alliance remains strong. Japanese prosecutors have said repeatedly they are confident they have a case, and Ghosn's flight underlines how he sought to skirt the law. Ghosn led Nissan, based in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo, for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. Reuters contributed to this report.
AMSTERDAM — Carlos Ghosn has launched a court case in the Netherlands against Japanese carmakers Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors, who ousted him as chairman of their alliance last year on charges of embezzlement, Dutch newspaper NRC reported on Saturday. Ghosn is seeking 15 million euros ($16.8 million) in damages from the carmakers, as grave mistakes were made when he was sacked, NRC reported, citing his lawyer. "In the Netherlands, if you want to fire an executive you have to first tell him what he's being accused of, and you have to provide him with the evidence for the accusations. Neither of those things has happened," lawyer Laurens de Graaf told NRC. Ghosn fell from grace late last year when he was arrested in Japan and sacked by Nissan on charges of financial misconduct, which he denies. He has also been fired as the CEO and chairman of French carmaker Renault. Ghosn was freed in April from jail in Japan on a $4.5 million bail. Among other charges of fraud and misconduct, Nissan and Mitsubishi have said Ghosn improperly received $9 million in compensation from their joint venture. Suspect expenses Ghosn made when he chaired Renault and Nissan amounted to about 11 million euros, Renault's board said in June. Ghosn holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, but opted for the fiscally more friendly Netherlands as his tax domicile in 2012. The holding company for the Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance is also incorporated in the Netherlands. The district court in Amsterdam is reviewing the case but has not set a trial date yet, NRC said.
TOKYO — Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn on Friday abruptly canceled plans for what would have been his first press conference since his arrest in November, after journalists had been notified about a briefing just two hours earlier. Ghosn's lawyers called to cancel the event that was to be held at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ), but did not immediately give a reason for the abrupt change, an official at the FCCJ told Reuters.
Automotive News cited a source as saying his family and media team staged a "last-minute intervention" to get him to call off plans to make his case at the press conference, fearing he would be faced with questions he couldn't answer without tipping his legal team's strategy, or that Japanese prosecutors would take a dim view of him publicly criticizing their actions and attempt to revoke his bail. A spokesman for the Ghosn family in Tokyo did not answer his mobile phone and did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. If the conference had not been canceled, Ghosn would have spoken as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hosts national leaders at the G20 leaders gathering in Osaka, including U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, who Ghosn's wife Carole have called on to raise the issue of her husband's treatment by Japan's courts. In May a Japanese court dismissed an appeal by Ghosn to ease a bail restriction that bans him from contacting his wife and rejected a subsequent request to allow him a one-off monitored meeting with Carole. His lawyers have argued that that condition violates Japan's constitution and international law on family separations. Ghosn's movements are also monitored and he is only allowed internet access from a computer at his lawyer's office that records the activity for the court. Once among the world's most feted auto executives, Ghosn is awaiting trial in Japan over charges including enriching himself at a cost of $5 million to Nissan, in a scandal which has rocked the industry and exposed tensions in the automaking partnership between Nissan and Renault SA. Since his initial arrest in November last year, Ghosn has been charged four times for crimes which also include underreporting his Nissan salary and temporarily transferring personal financial losses to his employer's books during his time at the helm of Japan's No. 2 automaker. Ghosn has denied any wrongdoing saying he is the victim of a boardroom coup, accusing "backstabbing" former colleagues of conspiring to oust him from Nissan in order to derail a closer alliance between the Japanese automaker and Renault, its top shareholder.