Nissan Motor Co. executive Greg Kelly was released from detention in Japan on December 25th, after being granted bail over the alleged underreporting of his boss Carlos Ghosn’s pay. The late-night release of Kelly, who is American, followed the Tokyo District Court’s approval earlier in the day of a bail request filed last week by his Japanese lawyer.
Kelly was freed on a $635,600 USD (70 million JNY) bail, ending his detention after more than a month. Following his release, which was captured by multiple TV stations, Kelly was expected to go straight to a hospital for treatment of his chronic neck problem.
Kelly and Ghosn have been detained in Tokyo’s detention center since their arrest on November 19th. They are charged with underreporting Ghosn’s pay by $44 million USD (5 billion JNY) in 2011-2015.
Kelly’s Japanese lawyer sought bail after the court had dismissed the prosecutor’s request for more detention for the two, while prosecutors investigate their second allegation of underreporting Ghosn’s 4 billion yen ($36 million) pay.
Ghosn will be detained until Jan. 1 or longer since he also faces breach of trust allegations.
Prosecutors say Ghosn and Kelly are flight risks. Following his release, Kelly will have to follow rules set by the court, including those regarding his residence and travel, prosecutors have said.
Kelly, released a statement to the Japanese media: “I have not been involved in alleged false entry, I believe my innocence will be revealed in the trial. 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.”
The arrests of Ghosn, who is an auto industry icon, and his right-hand man have triggered international attention and raised concerns about the Japanese practice of extended detentions.
Nissan has removed Kelly as representative director and Ghosn as chairman, but they are still company board members. The board of Renault SA, the French ally of Nissan, has retained him while naming an interim chair. Mitsubishi took a measure similar to Nissan.
Kelly, 62, joined Nissan North American in 1988 and worked in legal counsel and human resources at the company, and has been a member of the automaker’s board since 2012.
His American lawyer, Aubrey Harwell, has said he is innocent and that he only acted according to the law and according to company policy. Ghosn has also denied the allegations and told lawyers that he is determined to prove his innocence in court, according to Japanese media reports.
The Ghosn / Kelly scandal has raised concerns over the Japanese automaker and the future of its alliance with Renault, which in 1999 sent Ghosn to turn around Nissan, then on the verge of bankruptcy. He has since led Nissan’s rise to the world’s second-largest automaker. Ghosn’s downfall is seen by many people as a maneuver by others at Nissan to gain power in the alliance.