With Ghosn gone, Japan sets trial date for ex-Nissan executive left behind

TOKYO — Former Nissan executive Greg Kelly, who was arrested in connection with the financial scandal of his ex-boss Carlos Ghosn, will soon face trial in a Tokyo court. Both cases had been in limbo after Ghosn fled to Lebanon.

Tokyo Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hiroshi Yamamoto said Thursday the trial of Kelly, an American, and Nissan Motor Co., a defendant in the same trial as a company, will start Sept. 15.

He said prosecutors had “a solid case” to back allegations Kelly was involved in Ghosn’s alleged under-reporting of future compensation.

Ghosn has publicly denounced the allegations as groundless and accused Nissan officials of a conspiracy to oust him. He is living in Lebanon, which does not have an extradition treaty with Japan.

Kelly, who also says he is innocent, appeared in a pre-trial session Thursday. Such sessions are closed in Japan, and other details were not disclosed.

It’s unclear how Kelly and Nissan’s combined trial will progress. While Kelly is asserting innocence, Nissan has acknowledged guilt, seeking to distance itself from Ghosn and Kelly.

Kelly, a lawyer, was arrested at the same time as Ghosn, in November 2018. He was released on bail about a month later, and has since lived in Japan.

Separately, Japan is seeking the extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and Peter Taylor, wanted on charges of smuggling Ghosn out of Japan in a big box. They are being held in a Massachusetts jail without bail.

U.S. court documents show Ghosn wired more than $860,000 to a company linked to Peter Taylor in October 2019, and Ghosn’s son also made cryptocurrency payments totaling about $500,000 this year.

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani said this week she will rule soon on the extradition request.

Nissan, based in the port city of Yokohama, Japan, is expecting its second straight annual red ink for the fiscal year through March 2021, its brand tarnished by the scandal and its global sales crushed amid the virus outbreak.

Japanese media reported Kelly and Nissan’s trial will likely last about a year because of the large amount of evidence involved, including testimony of former Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa.

Saikawa replaced Ghosn, but resigned last year over financial misconduct allegations of his own. He has not been charged.