TOKYO -- Former Nissan director Greg Kelly, cleared on most counts and handed a suspended sentence in the long-running Tokyo trial over alleged financial misconduct by Carlos Ghosn, has left to return to the United States after more than three years of prosecution in Japan.
Kelly, accompanied by his wife Dee, were escorted to Tokyo's Haneda international airport by the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel, and checked onto a flight for home.
After a 17-month trial before the Tokyo District Court, Kelly was found guilty March 3 of aiding Ghosn during just one of eight years under scrutiny by prosecutors and cleared of any wrongdoing in the other seven. A three-judge panel gave Kelly, 65, a six-month suspended sentence.
Under the terms of Kelly's suspended sentence, the Tennessee lawyer and former human resources executive is allowed to return to the U.S.
Kelly's defense team filed an appeal against the guilty verdict last week, insisting on full vindication for their client. Meanwhile, Tokyo prosecutors are weighing their own appeal.
The appeals process is expected to last another year, but Kelly does not need to be present in Japan for those proceedings during that period, his defense attorney said.
Prosecutors accused Ghosn and Kelly of hiding some 9.3 billion yen ($80.5 million) in postponed compensation from 2010 to 2018. Both men, arrested the same day in 2018, deny wrongdoing.
But after Ghosn fled Japan for Lebanon in 2019, Kelly was left to fight the charges alone.
Kelly's lengthy trial came to an end with judges finding Kelly guilty of aiding Ghosn in the one year. They also found Nissan, as a corporate entity, guilty and fined the company 200 million yen ($1.73 million) for falsifying annual securities reports.
Although Ghosn was not technically on trial, the chief judge also slammed the former chairman of the Renault, Nisan, Mitsubishi alliance for conspiring to conceal postponed compensation that should have been disclosed in those annual reports.