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Former American executive at Nissan is convicted by the Japanese court

Former American executive at Nissan is convicted by the Japanese court

At the same time as Ghosn, former Nissan chairman and leader of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, Kelly was detained in November of the same year as Ghosn. Their defenses have centered on the fact that none of them ever received nor agreed to pay the money at the heart of the allegations.

Kelly was declared not guilty of certain accusations, but convicted of charges for a period of one year only, according to the court. His punishment was set to be suspended for a period of three years.

The trial started in September 2020, with Ghosn missing since he had escaped bail in late 2019 and was hiding in a crate for musical instruments on a private plane at the time of the start of the proceedings. After his detention, he escaped to Lebanon, which does not have an extradition treaty with Japan, and has been writing books and creating movies about his story ever since.

During the trial at Tokyo District Court, Kelly and his legal team, led by Yoichi Kitamura, maintained that Kelly was looking for legal methods to pay Ghosn in order to prevent him from leaving for a rival.

Kelly had been requested to be sentenced to two years in jail by the prosecution. Specifically, they said that Ghosn, Kelly, and Nissan Motor Company underreported Ghosn’s remuneration by 9 billion yen ($78 million) in filings during an eight-year period, from 2010 to 2018.

During the trial, the prosecution included as evidence numerous papers that were used to calculate Ghosn’s “delayed remuneration,” according to the prosecution. A fine of 200 million yen ($1.7 million) was levied on Nissan as a result of its guilty plea.

Ghosn was a rockstar at Nissan, where he served as chairman and CEO for over two decades. Renault SA, a French alliance member, sent him to oversee the rescue of its alliance partner, which was on the verge of going bankrupt. Severe recriminations were leveled against him by Nissan personnel who had been close to him, who accused him of accumulating power for personal benefit and plotting a merger between the two companies.

Peugeot-Citroen owns 43 percent of Nissan, while Nissan, which manufactures the Leaf electric vehicle and the Infiniti premium vehicles, owns 15 percent of Renault. Nissan, situated in the Japanese port city of Yokohama, holds a 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi Motor, a smaller carmaker based in the capital city of Tokyo. Renault is owned by the French government to the tune of 15%.

Japanese CEOs are often paid far less than their American counterparts, which is an essential consideration in the trial. The high-level executive salary was obliged to be published in Japan starting in 2010, and the amount declared for Ghosn, which was around $9.5 million even before deferred compensation, drew criticism.

Kelly has been released on bond and has been living with his wife in a Tokyo apartment since his arrest. Mr. Rahm Emanuel, the newly appointed United States ambassador to Japan, has shown his support for him.

On Thursday, Emanuel issued a statement saying, “We are pleased that the legal procedure has come to a close, and Mr. and Mrs. Kelly may return home.” It has been a difficult three years for the Kelly family, but they have reached the conclusion of their chapter.

The Nissan U.S. division recruited Kelly in 1988, more than a decade before Ghosn joined the company. Kelly was appointed a representative director in 2012, making him the first American to serve on Nissan’s board of directors. He spent most of his time in legal advice and human resources.

Additionally, in July 2021, two Americans who were extradited from the United States to Japan on allegations of transporting Ghosn out of Japan were convicted guilty. Two years in jail were handed down to Michael Taylor; his son Peter Taylor received a one-year-and-eight-month term.

In Japanese criminal cases, the conviction rate approaches 99 percent, according to official figures.

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