• Crime & Courts

Ex-Nissan exec Kelly, acquitted of most charges related to Ghosn’s pay, gets suspended sentence

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Former Nissan executive Greg Kelly, left, enters the Tokyo District Court to hear the verdict in his case on Thursday.

American Greg Kelly, a former Nissan Motor Co. executive who worked for the automaker’s then Chairman Carlos Ghosn, was given a suspended sentence by the Tokyo District Court on Thursday for underreporting Ghosn’s pay in financial reports.

In his ruling of a six-month sentence suspended for three years, Presiding Judge Kenji Shimotsu said that Ghosn, 67, had “unpaid remuneration” that should have been disclosed according to the Financial Instruments and Exchange Law. Former Nissan Representative Director Kelly, 65, was found guilty of a part of the charges related to violating that law, but acquitted of most other charges.

Prosecutors had sought a two-year prison term for Kelly.

The court ordered Nissan, indicted based on a dual liability provision of the law, to pay a fine of ¥200 million, in line with what prosecutors had demanded.

Kelly had been indicted on charges of conspiracy with Ghosn and others to falsely state that Ghosn’s executive remuneration for the eight fiscal years through the end of March 2018 was about ¥7.9 billion in Nissan’s financial reports. This figure was about ¥9.1 billion lower than the ¥17 billion Ghosn was supposed to receive.

The court ruled that the total amount of Ghosn’s remuneration stated in the financial reports should have included the unpaid portion. It found that Ghosn and Toshiaki Onuma, another former Nissan executive, had conspired to make the false reports over the eight-year period. Onuma, 63, had entered a plea bargain with the special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, a system that was introduced in Japan in 2018.

Kelly, the court said, had been unaware of the “unpaid remuneration” entitled to Ghosn for the seven fiscal years through March 2017. It ruled that Kelly had conspired with Ghosn and others only for the reports for the fiscal year ending March 2018.

Ghosn has also been charged for aggravated breach of trust under the Companies Law for misuse of Nissan funds. Because Ghosn fled to Lebanon, no prospects are in sight for his trial.