Greg Kelly, an ousted Nissan Motor Co. executive caught up in a financial corruption scandal, has been released on bail after being held for more than a month in the Tokyo Detention Center.
Kelly was arrested Nov. 19, immediately after arriving in Japan on a corporate jet. He accompanied Carlos Ghosn, then Nissan’s chairman, as well as the head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Ghosn, who is at the center of the scandal, will remain in detention until at least Jan. 1.
Prosecutors had also attempted to keep Kelly in custody, arguing he is a flight risk. The court ultimately ruled that he could be released on bail of 70 million yen, or $636,000. The American executive must also abide by restrictions on his movement.
Kelly’s request comes a week after wife, Dee Kelly, issued a video statement professing her husband’s innocence and cautioning that he faces health problems that need to be treated.
(Hit with new charges, Ghosn to remain in Tokyo jail. Click Here for the story.)
“Release Greg and allow him to come home and have the surgery he needs,” she said. “That is our family’s Christmas wish.”
After his overnight release, Kelly walked to a black car parked outside the detention center. Neither he nor his lead Japanese lawyer, who left with Kelly, made any comments, but a statement was released by Kelly.
“I believe my innocence will be revealed in the trial,” he said in the release. “I would like to have a judgment of non-guilty and restore my impaired reputation, and then return to my family as soon as possible.”
Kelly is accused of serving as the accomplice to the 64-year-old Ghosn who, according to prosecutors, committed a number of financial crimes. These initially included under-reporting about $36 million in revenue through 2015, using company funds to acquire homes in Lebanon and Brazil.
On Friday, prosecutors announced additional allegations, alleging Ghosn shifted personal trades to Nissan to cover losses of 1.85 billion yen, or $16.6 million. They have also indicated they may bring charges for concealing income since 2015.
Under Japanese law, a suspect may be detained for up to 10 days. However, there are various loopholes that can be used to extend custody. Critics have argued that prosecutors are improperly doling out charges to retain custody, a point echoed in several recent court rulings.
(Click Here for more about Ghosn almost winning bail as a Japanese court rebuked prosecutors.)
That led to Kelly’s overnight Christmas release. But Ghosn will not be able to end his own custody until at least New Year’s Day. And adding further allegations could yet extend his stay in solitary confinement.
Through his attorneys, Ghosn has indicated he won’t be silent once released, the Brazilian-born executive promising to hold a news conference to detail his side of the story.
The ongoing case has raised a number of questions. Among other things, some observers – including sources close to the Nissan board – have suggested the allegations against one of the industry’s most powerful executives may really be a case of corporate politics at an extreme level.
Renault effectively took control of its Japanese ally in 1999 when it spent $5 billion to rescue the near-bankrupt Nissan. It currently holds a 43.4% stake in its partner, Nissan having 15% of its French ally’s stock.
That has led to what many Japanese see as an uneven balance of power, among other things, Renault having the right to appoint Nissan board members and executives unilaterally. Saikawa has pressed to shift the way things operate.
George Peterson, head of consulting firm AutoPacific Inc., contends the arrests were just “a coup” meant to give Nissan a bargaining chip. Company officials insist that the charges are legitimate and emerged from a months-long internal probe initiated by a “whistleblower.”
(Ghosn scandals threatens to fracture Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Click Here for more.)
Significantly, while Ghosn and Kelly have been stripped of their corporate titles by both Nissan and Mitsubishi, the third company in the alliance, Ghosn retains his post with Renault.