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Ex-Nissan executive Greg Kelly pleads not guilty in Japan trial

September 15, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Greg Kelly, the former Nissan executive accused of colluding with Carlos Ghosn in a financial misconduct scandal, pleaded not guilty Tuesday as his trial kicked off in Tokyo.

Hong Kong/Tokyo (CNN Business)Former Nissan executive Greg Kelly has pleaded not guilty to accusations that he helped Carlos Ghosn under-report tens of millions of dollars worth of compensation.

Kelly was arrested almost two years ago alongside Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan and the architect of its powerful alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors.

Ghosn was also expected to stand trial in Japan for financial crimes — but at the end of last year, he escaped in dramatic fashion and fled for Lebanon, where he holds citizenship.

Prosecutors claim that from 2011 to 2018, Nissan repeatedly reported about half of what Ghosn had been promised to be paid, concealing over 9 billion yen ($85 million) in compensation.

They accuse Kelly and Ghosn of violating financial law by submitting false statements in regulatory filings.

Ghosn has repeatedly railed against the Japanese justice system and claimed that he left Japan because he believes he would not have been given a fair trial.

In prepared remarks to the court Tuesday, the former executive said that he had "always consulted with Nissan's attorneys and outside counsel" in discussions about Ghosn's compensation, with the intention of sticking to the law.

"I informed Mr. Ghosn what could be done legally and what could not be done legally," said Kelly.

Prosecutors allege that Ghosn and Kelly first came up with ways to conceal the auto chief's income after Japan introduced new compensation rules in 2010.

That led to concerns that there would be a "retention risk," Kelly added, as Ghosn's earnings were significantly lower than that of other senior executives elsewhere.

Kelly said that he looked into different methods of compensation with the intention of keeping Ghosn — whom he described as "an extraordinary executive" — employed at Nissan.

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