U.S. calls bid by men to avoid extradition over ex-Nissan boss Ghosn’s escape ‘flawed’

BOSTON (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday said a former Green Beret and his son, wanted by Japan for helping former Nissan Motor Co boss Carlos Ghosn flee the country, were advancing a “flawed” interpretation of Japanese law to fight their extradition.

FILE PHOTO: Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn attends a news conference at the Lebanese Press Syndicate in Beirut, Lebanon January 8, 2020. Picture taken January 8, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Michael Taylor and his son, Peter Taylor, were arrested in Massachusetts last month at Japan’s request for allegedly smuggling Ghosn out of the country on Dec. 29, 2019, in a box while he was out on bail awaiting trial on financial charges.

Ghosn fled to Lebanon, his childhood home, after being charged with engaging in financial wrongdoing, including by understating his compensation in Nissan’s financial statements. He denies wrongdoing.

Lawyers for the Taylors in a motion last week asked a federal judge in Boston to quash the provisional warrants issued in May for their arrests, arguing that “bail jumping” is not a crime in Japan.

Defense lawyers argued that helping someone jump bail was also not a crime. While Japan issued arrest warrants for the Taylors in January, the lawyers said the crime stated in the warrants is an immigration offense and a non-extraditable misdemeanor.

But U.S. prosecutors in a brief filed on Tuesday said it would be “unprecedented” for the extradition case at this junction to be tossed based on a “flawed interpretation of Japanese law and a mischaracterization of the facts.”

While Japan has not yet formally sought their extradition, the country has confirmed that Taylors’ conduct constitutes a felony, U.S. prosecutors said.

“The purported loophole through which the Taylors seek to evade justice simply does not exist,” U.S. prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors added that neither Taylor, including Michael, a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran and private security specialist, should be released from jail as they are flight risks.

Abbe Lowell, the Taylors’ lawyer, said he was reviewing the filing.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Tom Brown