Prosecutors appeal Tokyo court's ruling for ex-Nissan exec Kelly

© Kyodo News

Japanese prosecutors on Wednesday appealed a Tokyo court's ruling earlier this month, acquitting former Nissan Motor Co. executive Greg Kelly on almost all counts after he was accused of helping former CEO Carlos Ghosn underreport his remuneration for many years.

The Tokyo District Court found Kelly guilty, giving him a six-month prison sentence, suspended for three years, for falsifying Nissan's financial report for fiscal 2017. But it found him innocent on other counts over the Japanese automaker's financial reports covering the previous seven years.

Kelly, an American lawyer who was Ghosn's right-hand man as a Nissan representative director, has also appealed the court's ruling on March 3, saying he is completely innocent. The 65-year-old has already returned to the United States from Japan.

The prosecutors had sought a two-year prison term for Kelly, who was accused of conspiring with Ghosn in understating his remuneration by around 9 billion yen ($76 million) over eight years through March 2018.

The court recognized the existence of "unpaid remuneration" for Ghosn but concluded there was not enough evidence to establish that Kelly was aware of such deferred payments for the period from fiscal 2010 to 2016.

The court had also ordered Nissan, Japan's third-largest automaker, to pay fines of 200 million yen, the amount that prosecutors had demanded, for submitting inaccurate financial statements for fiscal 2011 through 2017 to regulators.

Nissan decided not to appeal the court's order.

The ruling for Kelly, who was arrested with Ghosn, 68, in Japan in November 2018, was widely seen as an effective defeat for the prosecutors.

In an interview with Kyodo News this month, Ghosn, who jumped bail and fled to Lebanon from Tokyo in late 2019, criticized the ruling, saying it was only to help the prosecutors save face.

The former auto tycoon has also insisted on his innocence.