December 25, 2018 / 5:46 AM / 8 months ago

Nissan's Kelly released on bail as Tokyo court rejects prosecutors' plea

TOKYO (Reuters) - Former Nissan Motor Co Representative Director Greg Kelly has been released on bail after more than a month in detention on financial-misconduct charges, as a Tokyo court rejected prosecutors’ request to keep the American executive in custody.

Media crews are seen on step ladders in front of the Tokyo Detention Center, where Nissan's arrested chairman Carlos Ghosn and a former Nissan executive Greg Kelly are being held, in Tokyo, Japan December 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Kelly and Carlos Ghosn, the automaker’s ousted chairman, were detained upon arrival in Japan on Nov. 19 on suspicion of understating Ghosn’s income in financial statements for several years.

The arrests jolted the global car industry and strained Nissan’s alliance with French car maker Renault SA. Ghosn remains in custody.

A crowd of Japanese and international reporters and camera crews had gathered since Tuesday morning waiting for Kelly’s release. He left the Tokyo Detention Center with his lawyer, Yoichi Kitamura, by taxi at around 10:45 p.m. (1345 GMT), a Reuters witness said.

Kelly said in a statement that he had not falsified any documents and looked forward to restoring his honor in court, adding that he wanted to return to his family as soon as possible, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.

There was no answer at Kitamura’s office when contacted by Reuters for comment.

The ruling by the Tokyo District Court came after an appeal by Kelly’s family in Tennessee. He paid bail of 70 million yen ($640,000) in cash, the court said.

But he could be barred from leaving Japan or talking to people related to the case, NHK said earlier in the day, although exceptions can be made for overseas travel on a case-by-case basis.

Kelly’s wife, Dee Kelly, appealed for his release in a video statement last week, saying her husband had been “wrongly accused as part of a power grab by several Nissan executives”, that he and Ghosn “fully believe that they did not break the law” and citing her husband’s need for surgery for spinal stenosis.

A Nissan spokesman said the car maker was not in a position to comment on the latest twist in the more-than-month-long saga.

“The company’s own investigation uncovered substantial and convincing evidence of misconduct, resulting in a unanimous board vote to dismiss Ghosn and Kelly as chairman and representative director. Our investigation is ongoing,” the spokesman said.

Both Kelly and Ghosn remain on the Japanese car maker’s board but without representative rights.

The court on Sunday extended Ghosn’s detention for 10 days, following fresh allegations of making Nissan shoulder personal investment losses.

Ghosn was re-arrested on Friday based on suspicions that around October 2008 he shifted personal trades to Nissan to make it responsible for 1.85 billion yen ($16.6 million) in appraisal losses, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also said Ghosn had inflicted damage on Nissan by having it deposit a total of $14.7 million on four occasions between June 2009 and March 2012 into a related bank account.

Ghosn will remain in Tokyo’s main detention center, where he has been confined since his arrest in November, at least until Jan. 1.

($1 = 110.1300 yen)

Reporting by Chris Gallagher, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Naomi Tajitsu and Tim Kelly; Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Muralikumar Anantharaman and Kirsten Donovan

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