Japanese prosecutors today issued arrest warrants for a former US special forces soldier and two others accused of helping ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn jump bail and escape to Beirut.
Warrants were issued for Michael Taylor, 59, a former US Green Beret, his 26-year-old son Peter Taylor and George Zayek, 60, a former member of a Christian militia in Lebanon.
The prosecutors also issued a warrant for Ghosn himself for leaving the country illegally, after he fled to Lebanon via Turkey last month to escape £65million corruption charges.
Japanese prosecutors issued warrants for the arrest of Michael Taylor (left and right), his son Peter Taylor, 26, and George Zayek, 60, a former member of a Christian militia in Lebanon
Ghosn was under house arrest on bail in Tokyo when he fled the country. He is pictured here in April last year being released from jail to await trial on £65million corruption charges
Ghosn says he fled Japan hidden inside a music equipment case to escape a ‘plot’ against him
They are suspected of taking Ghosn from his Tokyo home to a hotel in Osaka, western Japan, and hiding him inside a musical instrument case before taking him to Kansai airport where they allegedly helped him evade a security inspection.
CCTV emerged earlier this month showing Michael Taylor, who became a security consultant after leaving the military, and Zayek at Istanbul airport as Ghosn, 65, changed planes en route to his final destination.
The warrants are the first official confirmation of the reported details about how Ghosn slipped past security and jumped bail shortly after Christmas.
Ghosn has refused to confirm or deny the various reports on how he gave Japanese authorities the slip.
Michael Taylor, front right, and George Antoine Zayek (rear), were caught on CCTV at Istanbul Airport in Turkey while allegedly helping Carlos Ghosn flee from Japan to Lebanon
The escape of the high-profile suspect, who had been under house arrest on bail, left Japanese officials red-faced and they have demanded Ghosn returns to face trial.
Ghosn was arrested in November 2018 and faced four charges of financial misconduct, which he denies.
Ghosn claims there was a plot against him and that he had no chance of a fair trial.
He has said he did not believe he would get a fair trial, and accused Nissan executives opposed to his plans to integrate the firm further with its French partner Renault of effectively cooking up the charges against him.
Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan.
A team of 15 private security contractors hatched a plot to smuggle Carlos Ghosn out of Tokyo and onto a private jet to Lebanon via Turkey
Ghosn fled Japan hidden inside a music equipment case to escape what he has described as a ‘plot’ against him
Earlier this month Turkish prosecutors said Taylor senior and Zayek accompanied the former Nissan boss on the first leg of his journey from Osaka to Ataturk Airport, a smaller airfield in the Turkish capital, on a private jet.
They claim Ghosn changed aircraft on foot before taking a second private plane to Beirut, while his accomplices went across town to Istanbul’s main airport.
Taylor and Zayek then checked in and went through security, where the CCTV images were taken, before boarding a separate commercial flight to Beirut.
Turkey has arrested five people as part of its investigation into the escape, including employees of MNG, the private jet firm used by Ghosn.
The firm says its aircraft were used illegally in the escape and has filed a criminal complaint.
Taylor, who used to be a U.S. Special Forces counter-terrorism specialist, is now a private security contractor who has protected powerful people and companies, as well as secretly helping the U.S. government.
The 59-year-old has previously rescued hostages and is said to be well known in the private security contractor world.
Taylor’s company, American International Security Corp., was once hired by the New York Times to help rescue one of its reporters, David Rohde, after he was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The reporter was held in Pakistan for seven months before managing to escape himself in 2009.
Taylor also served a 14-month prison sentence in Utah in 2012 after pleading guilty to wire fraud in a multimillion-dollar military fraud scheme.
He was arrested after allegedly calling an FBI agent and asking him to stop a federal investigation into his security company.
Taylor was being investigated over a bid-rigging scheme to get $54 million Defense Department contracts.
Taylor, who denied any wrongdoing and claimed he was a legitimate businessman, took a plea deal.
When he was released from prison in 2015, the government gave him back the $2 million they had seized from him.
Ghosn is now holed up inside a mansion in Beirut with wife Carole (pictured, security outside) and says he plans to fight for justice from the country