Business

Former Nissan executive Greg Kelly released from Tokyo prison on bail

Bloomberg, Kyodo

Greg Kelly, the former Nissan Motor Co. director arrested along with ex-Chairman Carlos Ghosn, was granted bail and released Tuesday, after spending more than a month in detention.

The Tokyo District Court set Kelly’s bail at ¥70 million, according to the Tokyo Prosecutor’s Office. Associates of Kelly paid his bail as prosecutors appealed the decision.

Kelly released a press statement Tuesday night through his attorney, denying he has falsified any reports related to Ghosn’s compensation. He said he believes his innocence would be proven in court, adding he wants to go home to see his family as quickly as possible with his honor restored.

He was expected to go directly to hospital after his release.

The American executive, a former representative director of the Yokohama-based carmaker, was indicted this month along with Ghosn for allegedly understating Ghosn’s remuneration in securities reports over a five-year period through fiscal 2014. They have denied the allegation.

Kelly was arrested on Nov. 19 along with Ghosn for allegedly conspiring with the former chairman, who remains in detention. Prosecutors believe he instructed an executive in charge of legal affairs and other officials to make false statements about Ghosn’s pay in securities reports.

Ghosn allegedly only reported roughly ¥5 billion of his ¥10 billion compensation during the five years through March 2015.

Ghosn and Kelly were served a fresh arrest warrant on Dec. 10 for alleged underreporting of compensation by an additional ¥4.27 billion for the three years through March this year.

His release on bail will help Kelly mount a defense from outside the court while Ghosn remains in detention. Ghosn was re-arrested last week for a more serious allegation that he transferred his personal trading loss to Nissan in 2008. Kelly wasn’t included in the additional charge.

Ghosn will be detained until Jan. 1 over the new allegation, the Tokyo District Court said Sunday. His confinement could be extended for another 10 days after that. The handling of the two men’s cases has cast scrutiny on Japan’s justice system, which allows prosecutors to hold those suspected of crimes for weeks without charges.

Ghosn’s lawyer challenged the latest allegations that the former chairman transferred personal financial losses to Nissan and said Ghosn’s actions didn’t constitute a breach of faith.

Nissan has called Kelly, a Nissan veteran and the only American to serve on its board, a mastermind of a criminal plot to underreport his boss’s income, and has asked its staff to refrain from any communications with Ghosn, Kelly and their lawyers.

Dee Kelly, the wife of the ex-Nissan director, said in a video released through a lawyer Sunday that her husband is “a man of honor and integrity” who “holds himself to the highest ethical standards.” She reiterated that he had done nothing wrong and said he’d been “caught up in an international plot by some at Nissan to take control.” Dee Kelly also said several U.S. government officials have supported efforts to arrange for his return to Tennessee.

In a statement released earlier last week, she accused Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa of leading a “power grab” and wrongfully accusing Ghosn and Kelly. The Kellys live in Brentwood, Tennessee. Nissan’s North American headquarters is in neighboring Franklin

Inside Nissan, Kelly was known as the CEO whisperer: The chief of staff who would deliver the most delicate messages to Ghosn, and the man Ghosn would count on to enforce his directives. Kelly was locked up in a small Tokyo jail cell with a toilet and wash basin, cut off from Ghosn and barely able to speak with his own lawyers in the past month.