Greg Kelly in Tokyo
Pedestrians looking at a television news program featuring former former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly in Tokyo Image Credit: AFP

Tokyo: Japanese authorities Tuesday released on bail a Nissan executive accused of a key role in the financial misconduct case involving auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn, who remains in detention.

Greg Kelly, wearing a casual zip-up jacket and looking tired, walked out of the Tokyo Detention Centre more than a month after his arrest and got into a waiting taxi without speaking to the media.

In a statement prepared before his release, Kelly said he was arrested "for unexpected suspicion, during which I had hard times for my disease in this detention facility."

He said he would now consult a doctor regarding a health problem.

"I expect that the trial will start soon. I have not been involved in alleged false entry. I believe my innocence will be revealed in the trial," he said in the statement, according to Kyodo News.

"I would like to have a judgement of non-guilty and restore my impaired reputation, and then return to my family as soon as possible," he said.

His release came after the Tokyo District Court had approved a request by his lawyers. His bail was at 70 million yen ($635,000), which he paid in cash, according to the court.

Prosecutors appealed the decision, but the court turned them down.

Kelly and Ghosn have been detained in Tokyo since their Nov. 19 arrest. They are charged with underreporting Ghosn's pay by about 5 billion yen ($44 million) in 2011-2015.


Kelly's Japanese lawyer sought bail after the court dismissed prosecutors' request for more detention for the two to investigate their second allegation of underreporting Ghosn's 4 billion yen ($36 million) pay.

Charges for an underreporting allegation in more recent years are pending, and no trial date has been set.

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. After his release, Kelly would have to follow the rules set by the court, including his residence, travel and other conditions, prosecutors have said.

The arrests of an 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 scandal also 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 some as a maneuver by others at Nissan to gain power in the alliance.

Kelly's wife, Donna, made a plea to the Japanese authorities for her husbands' early release in a video message carried Tuesday by Japanese public broadcaster NHK and others. She said that her husband was "framed" by Nissan and that he also should be released to get his neck problem treated.

"Release Greg and allow him to come home and have the surgery he needs," she said. "That is our family's Christmas wish."

Kelly reportedly suffers from spinal stenosis, a condition of a narrowing of the spaces in the spine that can cause pain, tingling or numbness.

He had been scheduled to undergo surgery in Nashville in early December, according to media reports.