Two men suspected of helping the former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn flee Japan in December, where he was facing financial charges, were arrested in Massachusetts on Wednesday morning, according to U.S. authorities.
Michael Taylor, a former Green Beret, and his son Peter Maxwell Taylor are believed by Japanese authorities to have helped plan and carry out Mr. Ghosn’s flight to Lebanon from Tokyo.
The two executed “one of the most brazen and well-orchestrated escape acts in recent history,” Stephen Hassink, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in a filing arguing that the two should be held without bail.
The U.S. District Court in Massachusetts issued a warrant for the arrests on May 6, following a request from Japanese prosecutors. Japanese authorities have told their U.S. counterparts that they will seek to extradite the Taylors to face trial in Japan, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Michael Taylor’s lawyer, Dan Marino, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Ghosn’s disappearance from Japan, and his announcement two days later that he was in his home country of Lebanon, shocked Japanese legal authorities and set off waves of speculation on how he made the escape. Mr. Ghosn, who continues to live in Lebanon and would face arrest if he ever left, has never explained how he did it.
U.S. officials moved to capture the Taylors after learning that Peter Taylor was preparing to fly from Boston to Beirut, a court filing said.
According to the timeline provided by the U.S. attorney’s office, Peter Maxwell Taylor met with Mr. Ghosn in Tokyo on at least three occasions before the former auto executive’s flight from justice.
Shortly after the last meeting, Mr. Ghosn left his home in an upscale Tokyo neighborhood and walked to a nearby hotel where he met Michael Taylor and another man, George Antoine Zayek, a veteran of the Lebanese civil war.
The two men and Mr. Ghosn then boarded a bullet train to Osaka, where they entered a hotel room where Michael Taylor and Mr. Zayek had brought two large boxes “that looked like they were for audio equipment,” the U.S. attorney’s filing said. Mr. Ghosn hid in one of the boxes, and two men smuggled the luggage through security at a private jet terminal and onto a plane bound for Turkey, the documents said.
U.S. attorneys have asked the court to detain the Taylors until they can be turned over to Japanese custody, noting that they pose “an enormous risk for flight.”
Mr. Ghosn is beyond the reach of Japanese authorities while he is in Lebanon, because there is no extradition treaty between the two countries, Mr. Ghosn is Lebanese national and the country does not extradite its own citizens.
But the Taylors could very well end up in Tokyo, because the United States and Japan do have an extradition treaty. After a hearing, the final decision about whether to give the men up is, under law, to be made by the secretary of state following a formal request from the Japanese government.
Following Mr. Ghosn’s escape, Japanese authorities also issued an arrest warrant for his wife, Carole Ghosn, who is a citizen of the United States and Lebanon. Prosecutors have accused her of providing false testimony about her husband’s case.
The couple live in Lebanon, which Mr. Ghosn has used as a base for waging a media campaign to defend himself.
Mr. Ghosn had been a globe-trotting auto executive, overseeing an alliance of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi, when he was arrested in Japan on November 2018.
Japanese prosecutors charged him with four counts of financial wrongdoing, including hiding the full extent of his compensation from regulators and using Nissan’s resources for his own benefit.
He strongly denies all of the charges, saying that his arrest was the result of a coup orchestrated by officials at Nissan, and that he fled Japan because he had no chance of receiving a fair trial.
David Yaffe-Bellany contributed reporting.