Ghosn accused of using Nissan cash to pay associates; claims innocence in overseas film

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Greg Kelly enters Tokyo District Court on Thursday

Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been accused of illicitly using Nissan funds to pay a Saudi Arabian acquaintance and a Nissan’s sales agent in Oman, in addition to understating his remunerations.

On Thursday, former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly, a former aide to Ghosn, was given a suspended sentence by the Tokyo District Court for helping understate Ghosn’s pay.

Last year, Ghosn appeared in a film made by an overseas production company in which he claimed his innocence in the cases.

Ghosn jumped bail and fled Japan to Lebanon in 2019. In an online talk with The Yomiuri Shimbun in October 2021, he criticized Japan’s judicial system, reasserting his belief that judges have close ties with prosecutors.

When asked about the possibility of standing trial in Japan, Ghosn was quick to dismiss the suggestion.

During Kelly’s trial, prosecutors concluded that Ghosn was the “mastermind” behind the case, though there was no prospect of him being held accountable in Japan.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Justice Minister Yoshihisa Furukawa declined to comment on the possibility of extraditing Ghosn, saying he would not answer questions on specific investigations and cases.

French authorities, meanwhile, are also investigating Ghosn and others for alleged misappropriation of funds at the French automobile giant Renault, believing some of the funds paid by Renault to its distributor in Oman may have been diverted to the ex-Nissan head, among others.

According to AFP, investigators questioned Ghosn between May and June last year. On Feb. 27, the judge and others involved in the investigation arrived in Lebanon, where they planned to stay until Thursday to question witnesses.