Posted27 October 2021, 09:51
In late September, prosecutors demanded two years in prison against a former senior Nissan legal officer. On Wednesday, he pleaded not guilty.
Lawyers for Greg Kelly, a 65-year-old American tried in Tokyo for more than a year in the compensation case Nissan was supposed to pay Carlos Ghosn later, pleaded his innocence on Wednesday.
At the end of September, prosecutors demanded two years in prison against the former senior Nissan legal officer, whom they had presented as the mastermind of the automaker’s efforts to secretly inflate Carlos Ghosn’s income.
The prosecution accuses Greg Kelly of having helped Carlos Ghosn to hide from the Japanese stock market authorities 9.1 billion yen (nearly 74.5 million francs) of income over the period 2010-2018 that Nissan planned to pay later to his big boss at the time. “Greg Kelly is not guilty,” said his main lawyer Yoichi Kitamura on Wednesday before the judges.
Neither the amounts, nor the means of payment, nor the timing of these payments were determined, and therefore Nissan did not need to publish this data, according to Yoichi Kitamura. Greg Kelly was also not at the head of any “conspiracy” at Nissan on this file, contrary to what prosecutors said, again according to his lawyer.
Carlos Ghosn and Greg Kelly were arrested in Japan the same day in November 2018, then released on bail pending trial. Both have been claiming their innocence since the start of the affair.
The former Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian automobile magnate fled Japan at the end of 2019 under incredible circumstances, and has since been living in Lebanon, which does not extradite its nationals. Greg Kelly thus found himself on the front line against the Japanese judges.
At the end of September, Yoichi Kitamura said he was “rather confident” about Greg Kelly’s chances of being acquitted. “We will automatically appeal” if he is sentenced, even to a suspended sentence, he assured AFP.
Verdict expected in March
The verdict is expected to fall next March. The new US ambassador-designate to Japan, Emanuel Rahm, told the US Senate last week that he intends to follow the matter closely. Also on trial in this trial, but as a legal entity, Nissan pleaded guilty to him on Wednesday, while begging the judges for leniency.
The lawyers of the Japanese manufacturer allied with the French Renault have notably argued the fines totaling several tens of millions of euros that it has already paid to the Japanese and American stock exchange authorities in this case, and the damage to its brand image.
The prosecution last month demanded a symbolic fine of 200 million yen (1.5 million euros) against Nissan.