U.S. attorney for Nissan’s Kelly asserts his innocence

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Lawyer Greg Kelly, 62, joined Nissan North America in 1988. Photo: NISSAN

TOKYO – The lawyer of the director of Nissan noticed the & # 39; brain & # 39; of the alleged financial misconduct of the former chairman Carlos Ghosn, because his client did not do anything wrong.

Greg Kelly, who was arrested with Ghosn on November 19, is currently being held in a cramped prison cell in Tokyo. The arrests of both men were extended by a further 10 days from December 1, allowing prosecutors more time to seek evidence at Nissan and questioned both Ghosn and Kelly.

Neither men has been officially charged.

"Mr. Kelly takes the position that everything he did was legal, it was permissible, it was appropriate and he did not violate any laws," said Aubrey Harwell, a lawyer from Nashville, Tennessee who shares Kelly with a lawyer in Japan. . "He did nothing wrong."

The Japanese counterpart of Harwell, Yoichi Kitamura, has also said that Kelly preserves his innocence.

Harwell confirmed that Ghosn has tapped American law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. In Japan, Ghosn is also represented by the high-profile defense lawyer Motonaru Ohtsuru.

The legal teams of Kelly and Ghosn communicate about their case, Harwell said over the phone.

Japanese media reports have said that Ghosn has confirmed his own innocence by telling researchers that he has ordered Kelly to keep financial transactions under control in a legal way.

Harwell said it was unlikely that Ghosn would attempt to make the scapegoat scapegoat by blaming him.

"I think that's possible, but my judgment is that it's highly unlikely in this situation," Harwell said. & # 39; Based on what I know, none of these people has done anything criminal. & # 39;

Harwell said he was not yet able to travel to Japan or have direct contact with Kelly.

"We do not even know what the specific costs are," he added.

Prosecutors have not yet explained a possible case against the men in an official indictment.

An internal Nissan investigation claims that Ghosn has overcharged its compensation to 9 billion yen ($ 80 million) in eight years from 2009 onwards. Kelly claims that Ghosn has hidden the amount as deferred compensation to be paid at a later date. like after Ghosn with retirement.

Nissan's account also claims that both men talked together to use Nissan funds to pay for homes and apartments around the world for exclusive use by Ghosn.

Most suspects in Japan can be held for up to 23 days without a formal charge. In the case of Ghosn and Kelly, both can be detained for up to 22 days because they have been arrested directly by prosecutors and not by the first police. During this period they can be questioned for a long time – often hours a day – in the absence of their lawyers. Prosecutors can sometimes also introduce new accusations to "arrest" the suspect again and start the cycle again.

The Kosuge detention center in the northeast of Tokyo, where Kelly and Ghosn are held, is known as ice cold in the winter and sweltering in the summer.

Most cells are about 7 by 7 feet and have a sturdy door with a window through which guards can follow inmates, according to lawyers who are familiar with the facility. Suspects sleep on futon mattresses and have a privacy screen that they can partially cover when they use the toilet.

They can shower twice or three times a week.

Kelly has had no contact with relatives, Harwell said.

"We are told that he is reasonably good," said Harwell.

Harwell said Kelly, 62, was picked up at an airport in Tokyo, where he landed on a private jet. He and Ghosn traveled separately. Ghosn, 64, was arrested at Haneda airport in Tokyo.

Kelly retains his position as a director on the board of Nissan, although CEO Hiroto Saikawa, 65, recommends that shareholders remove him. Nissan is considering an extraordinary shareholders' meeting in January to vote on the removal of Kelly and Ghosn from the board.

After their arrests, Saikawa went off to Kelly as the mastermind & # 39; of the alleged misconduct.

Kelly joined Nissan North American Inc. in 1988. as a senior manager and legal advisor. Before joining Nissan, Kelly was a lawyer at Barnes & Thornburg, a law firm.

He became director of human resources for Nissan in August 1993 and Nissan senior human resources director in April 2000. Kelly was nominated for the board of the company in June 2012, becoming the first US board member for the Japanese automaker.

At that time, Nissan had four non-Japanese executives in his nine-member board.

One of those board members was Carlos Tavares, who is Portuguese. Tavares left Nissan in 2014 and is now head of Renault's French rival, PSA Group.