The Carlos Ghosn saga continues to rumble on, with a Tokyo court set to deliver a verdict on former Nissan Motor director Greg Kelly on Thursday, March 3. Kelly is being accused of helping Ghosn conceal $80 million from financial regulators.
Kelly was initially arrested alongside Ghosn. Ghosn since fled Japan as a fugitive in late 2019 and remains in Lebanon, taking advantage of the country’s lack of an extradition treaty with Japan. This makes Kelly one of the highest-profile individuals facing charges from Japanese prosecutors.
Prosecutors have accused Kelly of violating a financial regulation that requires executives earning more than 1 billion yen ($8.71 million) to disclose their pay, with the accused allegedly devising ways to defer payments to Ghosn. But Kelly has denied any impropriety, claiming his intent was to prevent the chief from being poached by a rival automaker. Prosecutors are asking that the former Nissan motor director serves jail time of up to two years.
Both Kelly and Ghosn have alleged that charges were drummed up by their then Japanese colleagues, who were worried over a potential full merger between Renault and Nissan.
However, the cards are stacked against Kelly, an American citizen, as 99 percent of cases that go to trial in Japan end with a conviction. Reuters reports that the U.S. ambassador, Rahm Emanuel, will be watching the case closely, with concerns over Japan’s overly-harsh justice system. In Japan, suspects are also not allowed a lawyer at interrogations, and they can be detained for up to three weeks without charge.
Nissan has pled guilty to allowing Ghosn to hide earnings from Japanese authorities. The company awaits a court ruling, with prosecutors seeking a 200 million yen ($1.74 million) fine.
Kelly has had to remain in Japan since 2018, having been released on a $600,000 bail. If convicted, Kelly will be the third U.S. citizen to go to jail in relation to the Carlos Ghosn case. Last year two Americans were extradited to Japan and imprisoned for orchestrating Carlos Ghosn’s daring escape from custody.