Carlos Ghosn, once known as the cost killer, is known to have revived failing auto companies. Then, in 2018, he was arrested in Tokyo.
A year later, he might as well have been nicknamed the “escape artist” when he was smuggled into a music case by a special forces veteran and smuggled out of the country. The unlikely conspiracy actually succeeded.
In the end, however, the multimillionaire is said to have left behind bars his accomplices who got out of hand.
“Most people won’t remember [Ghosn’s business skills]”, Sean McLain, co-writer of “Boundless”, about whom the new documentary “Wanted: The Escape of Carlos Ghosn‘ (out August 25 on Apple TV+), The Post said. “You will remember how he smuggled himself out of Japan.”
After Ghosn managed to turn around the French car manufacturer Renault and the mighty Nissan, he became a hero in Japan.
He was named one of the men Japanese women would most like to have a child with. He came to look like this: he lost his nerd glasses, got a good haircut, and wore slim-fitting suits.
But after Ghosn took a 50 percent pay cut (which dropped his Nissan salary to around $10 million), he was accused of financial inadequacy.
“If the allegations against him are true, he’s made $50 million [from Nissan]’ McLain said. “Carlos was one of the most prominent automobile executives of our generation. He jeopardized his inheritance for money.”
Ghosn insisted that Nissan had plotted against him. Japanese authorities arrested Ghosn at a Tokyo airport on November 19, 2018 as he attempted to enter the country.
Lebanon-born and close-knit Ghosn went in and out of prison twice, spending more than $10 million in total to pay his bail.
Conditions included: He was forbidden to communicate with his wife. Security guards monitored his comings and goings.
That arrangement didn’t work for Ghosn. He feared a guilty verdict or a year-long pending trial.
Through family contacts, Mike Taylor, a former Green Beret football coach and later high school football coach, was recruited to organize Ghosn’s escape.
“Mike is really motivated by injustice,” James Jones, director of the documentary, told The Post. “He probably liked the challenge. Getting rid of Japan’s most notorious criminals is like climbing Mount Everest.”
Of the escape plan, Taylor said in the documentary, “I had to find weak points. I looked at what I could use as an advantage and what could go wrong. If we wanted to bring him to Lebanon, there were two ways out: by land or by sea. But it was December and the sea was rough.”
Air was the remaining option. “[Customs authorities] Don’t check bags on your way out of Japan,” Taylor said. “They check them on the way there. That was a vulnerability that we could capitalize on. I would put him in a box.”
Another problem was getting Ghosn out of his monitored home. Ghosn deftly discovered that the minders were gone for a few days when the media came to fill in on his situation. Before leaving, he wanted to turn on the media.
This was conveyed to Taylor via an untraceable burner phone bought on the black market. Fearing his house was bugged, Ghosn chatted in the bathroom while the shower was on and a radio was blaring.
On December 29, 2019, Taylor landed in Osaka on a flight from the United States. He had custom-made musical instrument cases with him.
As expected, the boxes were inspected on the way there. He checked into a hotel in Osaka before proceeding to the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo, a sister hotel to the hotel where Lost in Translation was filmed.
After journalists inadvertently cleared the shore, Ghosn slipped out of his home unnoticed. He met Taylor in room 933 at the Hyatt. Shortly thereafter, the two men took the train to Osaka, while Ghosn wore a mask – which was common in Japan even before Covid – sunglasses and a hat.
In the hotel room there, it was loaded into a large 48″ x 30″ x 24″ box with air holes drilled in the bottom. “This was nothing but a military operation,” Taylor said in the document. “We had to enter and exit Japan in one day.”
With the help of Taylor’s son Peter, Ghosn was transported to Osaka’s private airport. To make things look good, Mike Taylor placed a guitar with Ghosn inside on the case.
As the Taylors and Ghosn sweated over the escape, officers joked. “You must have a very pretty wife in that box you’re taking from Japan,” one of them said to Mike.
After a nerve-wracking deceleration, the plane rolled and the wheels lifted. “I got him off the case,” Mike Taylor said. “He was smiling from ear to ear.”
Ghosn reportedly said to Mike, “You saved my life.”
What Ghosn described as an “impossible mission” was accomplished when he was extradited to his native Lebanon, where his notoriety surpassed that of Japan. One big difference: Lebanon had no extradition policy.
However, it didn’t take long for Ghosn to emerge as there. He held a press conference and stated, “I did not escape justice. I have escaped injustice.”
Ghosn had no intention of leaving Lebanon. However, the Taylors returned to America and, to their surprise, were extradited to Japan. The punishment there – for helping to escape – was quick and harsh.
Mike and Peter pleaded guilty and received two years and 20 months in prison respectively. “I didn’t hear from Carlos while we were in jail; If someone were to save my life I would do whatever I can to help [him]’ Mike said in the document.
“I spent 17 months in solitary confinement. You have no shoes, you get frostbite, you are not allowed to play sports. My work [while in jail] consisted of tearing up little pieces of paper. It caused me to have blisters. It was a psychological game.”
When asked in the documentary to comment on the Taylors’ predicament, Ghosn said, “We knew from the start the risks involved in an operation like this.”
In the documentary, Mike Taylor claims that he “owed well over $1 million in legal fees … big numbers,” not to mention that he was not compensated for directing the operation.
“A person is ungrateful that you saved their life,” Taylor said. “What can you do about it?”
Taylor even reached out to Ghosn’s wife: “I sent a text saying, ‘What’s wrong with your husband?’ How come he doesn’t pay?’ No Answer…”
From Ghosn’s point of view: “If there’s a victim in the whole story, it’s me.”
When asked if his “history with Carlos was over,” Taylor cryptically replied, “No. It’s far from over.”
IAnticipating where this would all lead, Taylor said, “I’m a great friend. I’m a really loyal friend. But I am also a big enemy.”