Greg Kelly, a former Nissan administrator sued by Japanese justice, on Tuesday denied accusations that he helped his former boss Carlos Ghosn to hide part of his income from the tax authorities.
On the first day of his trial in Tokyo, nearly two years after the pair were arrested by Japanese prosecutors, the 64-year-old American lawyer pleaded his innocence in the absence of his co-accused Carlos Ghosn, ousted president of the Japanese car manufacturer and Renault, who fled to Lebanon at the very end of last year.
A Nissan representative told the judge that the company, also indicted in the case, was not contesting the charges against it.
Dressed in a dark gray suit and a red striped tie, fitted with a protective mask, Greg Kelly said “dismiss the charges” against him. “I was not involved in a criminal conspiracy,” he said.
“Mr. Ghosn was an extraordinary leader,” added the former Nissan administrator, equipped with headphones so that the court’s remarks, mostly in Japanese, could be translated into English.
Greg Kelly, released on bail in 2018, is accused of helping Carlos Ghosn conceal more than 9 billion yen (around 72 million euros) of his income over an eight-year period.
The trial could last about a year. Kelly, who strangely celebrated his 64th birthday on Tuesday, faces up to ten years in prison and a fine of 10 million yen (around 79,000 euros).
Several executives of the Japanese manufacturer are called to appear, including the former managing director Hiroto Saikawa who could enlighten the court on internal practices at Nissan.
Carlos Ghosn, who denies accusations of financial embezzlement and breach of trust against him, fled to Lebanon last December while he was under house arrest in Tokyo awaiting trial.
He explained his flight by saying he was convinced that he would not have had a fair trial in Japan.
He also presented himself as the victim of a coup fomented within the board of directors aimed at putting an end to the influence of Renault and the French state in the alliance established with the Japanese car manufacturer.
In their opening statement, prosecutors said on Tuesday that Greg Kelly and other Nissan executives had studied ways to reduce Carlos Ghosn’s tax returns after new rules came into effect in 2010 on communication on the compensation of employees. officers.
These leads mainly revolved around the granting of loans that he would not have to repay, the sale of real estate at reduced prices or deferred payments until his departure.
Lawyers for Greg Kelly fought back by saying companies should only report payments made. They added that their client’s involvement in thinking about Ghosn’s compensation had remained limited.
The trial continues on Wednesday.