January 29, 2023

Ghosn's former deputy prepares to return to the United States after the suspension of implementation

Ghosn’s former deputy prepares to return to the United States after the suspension of implementation

Greg Kelly, former CEO of Nissan Motor Co., walks into the Tokyo District Court, in Tokyo, Japan, March 3, 2022. Zhang Xiaoyu/Paul via Reuters

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TOKYO (Reuters) – A Tokyo court on Thursday handed a six-month suspended prison sentence to former Nissan Motor Co CEO Greg Kelly for helping Carlos Ghosn hide organizers’ salaries, clearing the way for the American lawyer to return home after more than three years. in Japan.

“The court found that having unpaid wages” and not disclosing the information amounted to “false reporting,” Chief Justice Kenji Shimotsu said, telling Kelly that he was responsible for one of the eight years covered by the charges.

“I am shocked by the verdict,” Kelly said in a statement after the ruling. “The court found me mostly innocent, but I don’t understand why it said I was guilty a year ago,” he added.

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His lawyers said they would appeal the ruling, which Kelly should be able to do from the United States.

In a sharp criticism of prosecutors, the ruling also blamed Ghosn’s alleged failure to disclose $80 million in income over eight years on Toshiaki Onuma, the Nissan official overseeing the compensation, who was granted legal immunity in exchange for Kelly’s testimony of involvement.

“Onuma’s statement is risky because he was making statements consistent with the wishes of prosecutors,” Shimotsu said. “There was a danger as a partner that he would seek to transfer responsibility to Ghosn,” he added.

The court also imposed a 200 million yen ($1.73 million) fine on Nissan, which it pleaded at the start of the trial 18 months ago, for its role in financial misconduct and targeting corporate governance failures.

“The company’s wrong management allowed Ghosn to act in his own interest. The severe damage to the company’s social reputation can only be described as suffering the consequences,” said Shimotsu, describing Ghosn’s tenure there as a “dictatorship.”

draw a line

The verdict more than three years after Kelly was arrested alongside Ghosn draws a line in a case that has threatened to strain relations between Japan and the United States, its close ally. Some Western observers have criticized the Japanese justice system for its treatment of Kelly.

Suspects in Japan are not allowed to have a lawyer present during interrogation and can be held for up to three weeks without charge and often in solitary confinement. And 99% of cases that go to trial end in conviction.

“Although these three years have been a long time for the Kelly family, this chapter is over. He and Dee (his wife) can start their next chapter in Tennessee,” US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

Kelly testified that his only intention was to give Ghosn, who was also Renault’s CEO, a compensation package that would discourage him from defecting to a rival car company.

Bill Hagerty, the US senator from Kelly’s home state of Tennessee, said he plans to welcome his voter at the airport.

“Greg was exposed to circumstances that corporate America could never have thought of,” Haggerty said. He added that “Greg is innocent of the charges against him.”

However, the court ruling does not mean an end to the legal problems faced by the former head of Nissan and his alliance partner Renault SA. (RENA.PA)but it may be the closest court in Tokyo to rule on Ghosn’s guilt.

Ghosn fell out of reach of Japanese prosecutors after fleeing to Lebanon in 2019 hiding in a box on a private jet. He is unable to leave without risking arrest.

In addition to the charge of concealing his earnings, Ghosn is also accused of enriching himself at his employer’s expense through payments of $5 million to a Middle East car dealership, and of temporarily shifting personal investment losses to his former employer’s books.

Ghosn denied all the accusations against him.

(dollar = 115.5900 yen)

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Additional reporting by Tim Kelly and Satoshi Sugiyama; Editing by Grant McCall, Michael Perry and Emilia Sithole Mataris

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.