New Arrest Warrants Issued for Carlos Ghosn and Accomplices

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Tokyo prosecutors have issued warrants for the arrest of Carlos Ghosn and three Americans they claim helped him escape the country in December. His surprise arrival in Lebanon initially befuddled Japanese authorities, prompting the country to file a red notice with Interpol before releasing the latest warrant.

While a new development in the Ghosn saga, it doesn’t change much. The former executive still faces charges of financial misconduct stemming from his tenure with Nissan, but he now finds himself charged with violating Japan’s Immigration Control Law.

Japan’s take is that Ghosn fled the country to avoid justice (a backwards version of his own view). The former automotive executive and his wife, who is also wanted in Japan, have both stated publicly that they believe the country’s legal system would never allow Ghosn a fair trial, claiming officials worked with Nissan to help enact the industrial-grade coup that removed him. 

According to Automotive News, Japanese prosecutors have fingered three individuals they believe assisted Carlos in his escape. They’ve been identified as Michael Taylor (59), Peter Maxwell Taylor (26), and George Zeyek (60). Various media reports claim Taylor is a former U.S. Green Beret special forces soldier and Zayek is a former Christian militia fighter from Lebanon.

The details of that escape are like something out of a heist movie. Based on surveillance footage, it’s assumed the three men met Ghosn at the Tokyo hotel where he was being held under house arrest to help smuggle him out. That process started with getting him onto a train to the airport, where a plane was waiting. However, to complete the ruse, Carlos had to hide in a large case normally intended for transporting speakers.

From Automotive News:

In Osaka, the conspirators packed Ghosn into a case and put him on a private plane that departed around 11:00 pm, according to the prosecutors’ account. The Americans boarded with him, they alleged, thereby also skipping immigration control and violating the law.

Japanese authorities have told local media they have surveillance camera footage of Ghosn and his handlers entering a hotel near the airport. Later, the men emerge with the box, but no Ghosn.

On Wednesday, NHK World reported that Japanese prosecutors searched the office of lawyer Junichiro Hironaka. As part of Ghosn’s legal defense team, Hironaka is alleged to have allowed his client access to his computer on multiple occasions while on bail. The device was thought to hold evidence related to the escape.

Ghosn’s lawyers initially refused to hand over the PC, citing a legal right to protect the client’s confidentiality. However, they’ve since washed their hands of the affair. They issued a statement on January 16th saying there’s no chance their client will ever want to return to Japan on his own accord, and quickly abandoned the case. Considering their client left $13.8 million in bail money on the table by fleeing the country, they probably have a point.

Likewise, Lebanon has no extradition treaty and is unlikely to turn on Ghosn. Lebanese judicial authorities have already stated they have no intention of surrendering him to Japan. While there is a chance he could be tried locally, that’s unlikely to come with the same penalties as a Japanese trail — and unlikely to happen unless Lebanon feels there’s clear evidence pointing to criminal behavior beyond his simply violating immigration laws.

[Image: Plamen Galabov/Shutterstock]

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