Greg Kelly, the Nissan Motor executive 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 Mr Kelly’s bail at 70 million yen ($635,000), according to the Tokyo prosecutors’ office. He was arrested on November 19 and was indicted for allegedly helping the car titan under-report his compensation by tens of millions of dollars. Both Mr Ghosn and Mr Kelly have denied the charges through their lawyers.
The decision to grant bail was appealed by prosecutors, leaving open the question of when Mr Kelly might be released.
Mr 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.
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 car maker has become more strained since the arrests, although both companies have publicly said they weren’t looking to reconsider the current structure.
A release of Kelly would help him mount a defense from outside the court while Ghosn remains in jail. Mr Ghosn was re-arrested last week for a more serious allegation that he transferred his personal trading loss to Nissan in 2008. Mr Kelly wasn’t included in the additional charge.
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Mr Ghosn will be detained until January 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.
Mr Ghosn’s lawyer challenged the latest allegations that the former chairman transferred personal financial losses to Nissan and said Mr Ghosn’s actions didn’t constitute a breach of faith.
Nissan has called Mr 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 Mr Ghosn and Mr Kelly and their lawyers.
Dee Kelly, wife of the Nissan director, said in a video released through a lawyer Sunday 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’d been “caught up in an international plot by some at Nissan to take control.”
Dee Kelly also said several US government officials have supported efforts to arrange for his return to Tennessee.
Inside Nissan, Mr Kelly was known as the CEO whisperer: the chief of staff who would deliver the most delicate messages to Mr Ghosn, and the man Mr Ghosn would count on to enforce his directives. Mr Kelly was locked up in a small Tokyo jail cell with a toilet and wash basin, cut off from Mr Ghosn and barely able to speak with his own lawyers in the past month.