Former Nissan director leaves jail after court grants bail

Greg Kelly, the Nissan Motor Co. director arrested along with former chairman Carlos Ghosn, was freed from jail, with a court granting him bail after spending more than a month in a Tokyo detention center.

Kelly walked out of a detention center late Tuesday night in Tokyo after a local court set his bail at 70 million yen ($635,000), according to the prosecutors’ office. He was arrested on Nov. 19 and was indicted for allegedly helping the car titan under-report his compensation by tens of millions of dollars. Both Ghosn and Kelly have denied the charges through their lawyers.

“Today I returned to the outside world after making bail,” Kelly said Tuesday in a statement provided by his lawyer to NHK, which was broadcast in Japanese. “I look forward to receiving a court judgment of innocence, restoring my name, and returning to my family as soon as possible.”

Japanese prosecutors lost an appeal against the granting of bail, allowing the American to leave jail late Tuesday evening. His departure from the detention center in a taxi, with helicopters and motorcycles following, was televised by local media including NHK. He was taken to a hospital in Ibaraki Prefecture for treatment of his spine and will remain there until the end of the year, and he had no plan to meet the press for now, according to Kyodo News.

The court has set conditions for the bail, including a ban on leaving Japan. He is not allowed to get in touch with people involved in the allegations, and needs to live at an address approved by the court.

Kelly’s release will help him mount a defense from outside the court while Ghosn remains in jail. Ghosn was re-arrested last week for a more serious allegation that he transferred his personal trading loss to Nissan in 2008. Kelly wasn’t included in the additional charge.

Ghosn will be detained until Jan. 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.

Ghosn’s lawyer challenged the latest allegations that the former chairman transferred personal financial losses to Nissan and said Ghosn’s actions didn’t constitute a breach of trust.

The Japanese automaker has called 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 Ghosn and Kelly and their lawyers.

‘International Plot’

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 U.S. government officials have supported efforts to arrange for his return to Tennessee.

Inside Nissan, Kelly was known as the CEO whisperer: The chief of staff who would deliver the most delicate messages to Ghosn, and the man Ghosn would count on to enforce his directives. Kelly was locked up in a small Tokyo jail cell with a toilet and wash basin, cut off from Ghosn and barely able to speak with his own lawyers in the past month.

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