When former chairman and CEO of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn orchestrated an elaborate escape from his prison cell in Japan, law enforcement began to close in on his circle of cronies. In May of last year, a former US special forces operative and his son were charged in connection with the incident.
As of this week, Turkish prosecutors asked for the maximum penalty of 12 years in prison each for the Turkish airline official and two pilots that were responsible for helping the father-son duo smuggle Ghosn out of Japan.
According to court documents, Michael and Peter Taylor aided Ghosn in his flight from the country by storing him in a large musical instrument case with 70 breathing holes cut into it.
The employee of Turkey’s MNG Jet private airline, Okan Kosemen, is said to have subsequently employed four pilots and two flight attendants to transport Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon.
The plan included Ghosn boarding a plane headed for Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. This was meant to lead officials off their scent. However, at the very same airport, another plane headed for Beirut, Lebanon was parked.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Kosemen deboarded the first plane before boarding the one en route to Beirut with Ghosn. Detectives traced payments sent to Koseman’s bank account before the plane’s departure and then again upon arrival in Beirut.
“The plot to spirit Ghosn out of Japan was one of the most brazen and well-orchestrated escape acts in recent history, involving a dizzying array of hotel meet-ups, bullet train travel, fake personas, and the chartering of a private jet,” prosecutors said in a press statement.
The 66-year-old auto-tech magnate is facing charges of under-reporting earnings and the misappropriation of company funds.
The pilots accused of aiding his escape are facing eight years in prison for “illegally smuggling a migrant.” Meanwhile, the flight attendants who accompanied Ghosn could receive one-year sentences if they are convicted of failing to report a crime and the Taylors are currently facing extradition from the United States.
“Taylor presents an enormous risk of flight, ”a federal judge said of the fathe, Michael. “His alleged involvement in the Ghosn plot demonstrates his aptitude for hatching escape plans on a grand scale and his blatant disrespect for bond conditions.”
Although all parties involved maintain their innocence, reports have suggested that Ghosn only fled in the first place because he was fearful of a botched trial.
Peter Taylor allegedly flew to Japan on three separate occasions to meet with Ghosn beginning in July 2019. Meetings took place a total of seven times before an escape plan was officially devised. Michael Taylor and a Lebanese-born U.S. citizen named George Zayek waited for the two in Osaka by private jet from Dubai with large musical equipment boxes.
Surveillance videos show the two meeting up with Mr. Ghosn and Peter at the latter’s hotel room and then all four men were spotted on video leaving together, just before Peter left the group onboard a flight to China.
“Their baggage passed through the security check without being screened and was loaded onto a private jet,” court documents report.
Turkish officers are still investigating more co-conspirators within airport security systems.