Since the escape of Carlos Ghosn from Japan in December 2019, Greg Kelly, his former collaborator at Nissan, also prosecuted in Japan, feels even more alone in front of the trial which awaits him. He recently told AFP his dismay, tinged with vague hopes.
The flight to Lebanon of his former boss in late December 2019 first left him “stunned”, says the 63-year-old American. “I was completely taken by surprise,” he says, however cautiously refraining from judging this escape.
The main accused being no longer in Japan, “it seems to me rather difficult to really have a fair trial,” he shared with AFP. “How do you intend to deal with this case in a logical manner?”
Contrary to what the media often assert, Kelly ensures he was not Ghosn’s right arm. He speaks out saying: “At Nissan, I only met Carlos Ghosn twice a month. We weren’t personally close. We only talked about work,” he said. And yet, for almost a year and a half, his fate has been closely linked to the fallen CEO.
As the former head of human resources and legal affairs at Nissan, Mr. Kelly is accused in Japan of having helped Mr. Ghosn to conceal from the stock market authorities several tens of millions of euros of income which he was to receive later. A trial date has yet to be set.
Like his former boss, Mr. Kelly claims to have “done nothing criminally reprehensible in Japan” and still finds it hard to believe that he faces up to ten years in prison. “For me, that could have been resolved within Nissan. If there was an error on the mention of something which was never validated and never paid …,” he says.
Greg Kelly was arrested at the same time as Mr. Ghosn in November 2018, after his landing in Japan where Nissan had summoned him by invoking, he said, an important meeting of the board of directors, of which he was a member.
He then spent more than a month in solitary confinement, when he initially planned to return to the United States as soon as possible to be operated on for lumbar stenosis.
As soon as he was released on bail, he was operated on by a surgeon in Japan with whom he is satisfied, although he still suffers from numbness in his arms, legs, and feet, which sometimes causes him to fall.
No question, however, for him to give up his daily morning run around the Tokyo Imperial Palace, very close to the small apartment he rents with his wife Donna: “It calms stress,” he tells the media outlet.
The couple currently residing in Tokyo, far from their two sons and grandchildren in the United States, whom Mr. Kelly cannot visit because he is prohibited from leaving Japan. Because of his charges, he is also prohibited from contacting any of his friends, and former or current Nissan employees.
“It makes no sense to be here in this situation,” Kelly says expressing his frustration in almost every interview he has given since. But without cursing Nissan, the company for which he worked for almost thirty years: “I want Nissan to go well.”
Now that Carlos Ghosn has been removed from the picture “perhaps there could be a way to resolve” this situation, he hopes vaguely. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. We live day by day.”
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