Tokyo court convicts ex-Nissan CEO Kelly of helping Ghosn cover his salary

A Tokyo court on Thursday handed down a six-month suspended prison sentence to Nissan Motor CEO Greg Kelly for helping Carlos Ghosn hide the salaries of financial regulators, but also blamed a key prosecution witness for his role in the alleged failure to disclose his income. $80 million over eight years.

“The court found that there was unpaid wages” and that failure to disclose the “total total” amounted to “false” reporting, Chief Justice Kelly told in court.

The judge also blamed Toshiaki Onuma, the official who oversaw the details of Ghosn’s compensation, who avoided charges in exchange for his cooperation with prosecutors.

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

The court also fined Nissan 200 million yen ($1.73 million) for failing to disclose Ghosn’s wages. Japan’s No. 3 automaker pleaded guilty at the start of the trial 18 months ago.

The verdict, more than three years after Kelly was arrested alongside Ghosn, may be the closest Japanese court to a ruling on the former Nissan chief’s guilt. Ghosn fell out of reach of Japanese prosecutors after fleeing to Lebanon in 2019 hiding in a box on a private jet.

The fee stemmed from a change in financial regulations in 2010 that required executives who earn more than 1 billion yen ($8.71 million) to disclose their salaries.

Kelly denied breaking the law and 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.

The ruling means Kelly should be able to leave Japan for the first time since his arrest unless prosecutors, who have sought a two-year prison sentence, appeal the ruling.

“While this has been three long years for the Kelly family, this chapter is over. And Woody (his wife) can start their next chapter in Tennessee,” US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

Currently, Ghosn who has been landing on the globe is stuck in Lebanon, unable to travel abroad without risking arrest and return to Japan.

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.

(Reuters)

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