"I think the evidence will show that I did not violate the rules" on Japanese stock markets.
Greg Kelly, former right-hand man of Carlos Ghosn at Nissan, accused like him of financial embezzlement, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday at the opening of his trial in Tokyo.
He appears alone, Carlos Ghosn having fled Japanese justice in Lebanon.
Kelly and Nissan - sued as a legal person - are accused of illegally and knowingly failing to mention in the automaker's annual stock market reports from 2010 to 2018 a total compensation of around 9.2 billion yen (€ 73m ) that Carlos Ghosn should have touched later., According to one of its representatives, Nissan, unlike Greg Kelly, had to plead guilty.
“I deny the charges.
I did not participate in a criminal conspiracy, ”the defendant insisted on Tuesday.
If he worked with other people, both internally and externally, on a "legal" way to pay his boss more from 2010, it was, he explained, to dissuade him from joining a company. another company where he would have been better paid.
It was in Nissan's interest at the time to retain this “extraordinary leader” who had saved the group from bankruptcy and who “fiercely protected its independence” vis-à-vis Renault, he insisted.
Ten months of trial
In early 2020, during his first public appearance in Beirut after his flight from Japan, the former CEO reaffirmed that he had been the victim of a "stunt" by certain Nissan officials, who wanted to kill him to prevent him from being killed. makes the Renault-Nissan alliance “irreversible”.
The trial of the former head of human resources and legal affairs at Nissan, wrongly presented according to him as the "right hand" or confidant of Ghosn, who is 64 years old today, is due to last about ten months and takes place near two years after his arrest in Japan, which took place on the same day as that of the former boss of Renault and Nissan, in November 2018. After more than a month in pre-trial detention, Kelly was released on bail in Christmas 2018, with the ban on leaving Japan while awaiting judgment.
He faces up to ten years in prison.
" They are afraid "
His lawyers complain that they only had access to a small fraction of the hundreds of documents collected by the Japanese prosecution and Nissan.
Another major disadvantage: "Foreign witnesses who are very useful for Mr. Kelly do not trust the Japanese judicial system", fearing to fall into a trap and be arrested upon their arrival in Japan, like Mr. Kelly at the end of 2018 , recently lamented one of his lawyers, James Wareham.
" They are afraid.
They will not come to testify in Japan, ”he added.
Defense lawyers have requested that these witnesses be heard remotely by videoconference.
The prosecution said it was against, the court rejected the request.
Nissan has already agreed at the end of 2019 to pay a fine of 2.4 billion yen (nearly € 20 million) to the Japan Financial Services Agency (FSA) for failing to mention Mr. Ghosn's deferred payments.
The Japanese manufacturer has also already agreed to pay $ 15 million to the United States in an amicable agreement with the American authorities on the same file.
Greg Kelly had paid a fine of $ 100,000, and Carlos Ghosn of 1 million.