Nissan’s Kelly may be released after court grants bail

TOKYO — Greg Kelly, the Nissan Motor Co. aide arrested along with former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, was granted bail on Tuesday, making way for his potential release after spending more than a month in jail.

The Tokyo District Court set Kelly’s bail at 70 million yen ($635,000), according to the Tokyo prosecutors’ office. The court later said he had paid the bail in cash.

Kelly was arrested on Nov. 19 and was indicted for allegedly helping Ghosn to under-report his compensation by tens of millions of dollars. Both Ghosn and Kelly have denied the charges through their lawyers.

The decision to grant bail was appealed by prosecutors, leaving open the question of when Kelly might be released. Public broadcaster NHK said the decision meant Kelly could be released as early as Tuesday from Tokyo Detention Center.

If released on bail, Kelly could be barred from leaving Japan or talking to people related to the case, NHK said, although exceptions can be made for overseas travel on a case-by-case basis.

Kelly’s lawyer wasn’t immediately available to comment. Nissan declined to comment in an emailed statement, saying it doesn’t have a role in the court decisions.

A release of Kelly would help him mount a defense from outside the court while Ghosn remains in jail. Ghosn was re-arrested last week for a more serious allegation that he transferred his personal trading loss to Nissan in 2008. Kelly wasn’t included in the additional charge.

Ghosn will be detained until Jan. 1 over the new allegation, the Tokyo District Court said Sunday. His confinement could be extended for another 10 days after that. The handling of the two men’s cases has cast scrutiny on Japan’s justice system, which allows prosecutors to hold those suspected of crimes for weeks without charges.

Ghosn’s lawyer challenged the latest allegations that the former chairman transferred personal financial losses to Nissan and said Ghosn’s actions didn’t constitute a breach of faith.

Nissan has called Kelly, a Nissan veteran and the only American to serve on its board, a mastermind of a criminal plot to under-report his boss’s income, and has asked its staff to refrain from any communications with Ghosn and Kelly and their lawyers.

‘International plot’

Dee Kelly, wife of the Nissan director, said in a video released through a lawyer  that her husband is “a man of honor and integrity” who “holds himself to the highest ethical standards.” She reiterated that he had done nothing wrong and said he had been “caught up in an international plot by some at Nissan to take control.”

Dee Kelly also said several U.S. government officials have supported efforts to arrange for his return to Tennessee.

Inside Nissan, Kelly was known as the CEO whisperer: The chief of staff who would deliver the most delicate messages to Ghosn, and the man Ghosn would count on to enforce his directives. Kelly was locked up in a small Tokyo jail cell with a toilet and wash basin, cut off from Ghosn and barely able to speak with his own lawyers in the past month.

Renault holdings

Nissan, in a separate statement, said it modified its corporate governance code, allowing it to sell Renault shares if it deemed the cross-shareholding structure inappropriate. The Japanese company’s alliance with the French carmaker has become more strained since the arrests, although both companies have publicly said they weren’t looking to reconsider the current structure.

Reuters contributed to this report

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