Each weekday morning, Greg Kelly, the previous Nissan govt accused of serving to Carlos Ghosn cover his compensation from the Japanese authorities, makes his solution to his lawyer’s workplace in Tokyo to chip away at a monumental activity: reviewing shut to 1 billion pages of paperwork.
His spouse, Donna Lynn Kelly, whom everybody calls Dee, goes off to Japanese class.
That’s the lifetime of the 2 Individuals in Japan as they await Mr. Kelly’s trial, in keeping with an individual who is aware of Mr. Kelly and spoke on situation of anonymity to debate private issues. The timing of the trial, as soon as set to start in April, is now unsure after Mr. Ghosn’s sudden flight to Lebanon two weeks in the past. A pretrial listening to subsequent Thursday might shed extra gentle.
Mr. Kelly, whose passport was taken away when he was arrested in November 2018, is making ready to defend himself towards prison prices that, as Mr. Ghosn’s chief of workers and the person nominally accountable for Nissan’s inner auditing, he helped Mr. Ghosn conceal how a lot he was being paid. The prosecutors in Japan declined to touch upon Mr. Kelly’s case.
Mr. Kelly says he’s harmless and simply desires to go residence to Tennessee. At 63, he suffers from a spinal situation that has left him with weak spot in his extremities and an unsure gait that typically causes him to journey and fall. He has an toddler grandson in Seattle he has by no means met.
On Jan. eight, he watched his former boss, showing match and pugnacious in Beirut, tackle a room full of journalists. Over almost three hours, Mr. Ghosn proclaimed his innocence in 4 languages. He talked about Mr. Kelly twice.
“Greg Kelly, an honorable man, husband and father, who was brutally taken from his household,” Mr. Ghosn mentioned. “My plight has captured headlines,” he mentioned. “You can’t overlook Greg’s ordeal.”
In Beirut, Mr. Ghosn has a pink mansion in an upscale a part of city. The Kellys reside in an condominium, small however clear, with a microwave however no range. Ms. Kelly can go to household in the USA, however she spends most of her time together with her husband in Tokyo, the individual mentioned. Her visa relies on her finding out Japanese, so she spends a number of hours a day at school. If she doesn’t rating excessive sufficient on the exams, she could be despatched residence.
Whereas Mr. Ghosn used a company jet to go to properties in Brazil, Beirut, Paris and Tokyo earlier than the 2018 arrests, Mr. Kelly led a extra pedestrian life as a Nissan govt, in keeping with two individuals who know him.
A lawyer, Mr. Kelly joined Nissan in 1988, enticed by a recruiter who described “an especially fascinating Japanese firm in Tennessee. I believe it might match for you,” he recalled final 12 months in an interview with the month-to-month journal Bungei Shunju.
He and his spouse raised a household — two sons — in Brentwood, Tenn., a Nashville suburb close to Nissan’s North American headquarters, and Ms. Kelly labored as an accountant. Whereas the youngsters had been younger, the Kellys had been members of the Church of the Good Shepherd, an area Episcopalian congregation, with Dee and their son Mike writing and directing Christmas pageants.
In 2008, their lives modified. Mr. Kelly’s job, as senior govt in Nissan’s human assets division, took him to Japan, and Ms. Kelly got here with him. He turned a senior vice chairman after which, in 2012, joined Nissan’s board — its first American board member — whereas working for Mr. Ghosn, the chairman, as the corporate’s prime authorized officer.
He was thought of an in depth affiliate of the chairman, a dependable vote to assist Mr. Ghosn perform his plans for an alliance of Nissan and Renault, the French automaker Mr. Ghosn additionally headed. However Mr. Kelly has rejected that description, stating that he was not on the board’s prime decision-making physique, the manager committee. “Contemplating this, why was I referred to as Ghosn’s right-hand man?” he advised Bungei Shunju.
The Kellys loved Japan — “Greg and I usually mentioned the potential for dwelling in Japan part-time in our retirement,” Ms. Kelly later mentioned — however their lives remained rooted in the USA.
In 2008, they purchased a trip home in Sanibel Island, Fla., in a neighborhood full of a community of canals resulting in the Gulf of Mexico, in keeping with property paperwork. They joined a crusing membership that organized potlucks at picnic huts on the seaside and luncheons at native seafood eating places.
“You’re coping with an all-American man, not extravagant, no racehorses, nothing,” mentioned the second one who is aware of Mr. Kelly. “Very abnormal man, and charming, very American within the optimistic sense of the phrase.”
Mr. Kelly retired to Tennessee in 2015 however saved his board seat. In November 2018, Mr. Kelly recalled within the interview with Bungei Shunju, a senior govt urged him to attend a board assembly in Japan. Mr. Kelly, going through spinal surgical procedure inside two weeks at Vanderbilt College Medical Heart, mentioned he would favor to attend by way of video convention. The official insisted that he are available individual, that the corporate would ship a aircraft to choose him up and that he can be residence inside three days, in time for Thanksgiving.
Minutes after touchdown in Tokyo, he was arrested. He spent the subsequent 34 days in a cell at Tokyo Detention Home, sleeping on a futon on the ground.
Earlier than he was launched on bail on Christmas Day in 2018, Ms. Kelly recorded a video and distributed it information organizations, begging for her husband to be freed or no less than to be allowed to seek the advice of with a Japanese physician she had recognized as one of many nation’s main specialists on Mr. Kelly’s situation. He would ultimately bear surgical procedure in Tokyo for spinal stenosis, but it surely didn’t relieve his signs.
In September, the USA Securities and Trade Fee accused Mr. Kelly, together with Mr. Ghosn and Nissan, of breaking American disclosure legal guidelines. Mr. Kelly agreed to pay $100,000 and undergo a five-year ban on serving as a senior govt of a public firm to settle the costs with out admitting or denying guilt.
Prosecutors have barred his legal professionals from placing the voluminous paperwork in his case on-line and making them searchable, which implies that solely Mr. Kelly’s Japanese protection group, or others who come to their Tokyo workplaces, can see them.
Mr. Kelly has insisted on serving to to evaluate the mountain of paperwork prosecutors say they are going to use to make their case. He spends hours every day at his lawyer’s workplace.
“Greg has been wrongly accused as a part of an influence seize by a number of Nissan executives,” Ms. Kelly mentioned within the video. “The reality of it will come out.”
Within the 2019 journal interview, Mr. Kelly was defiant about his and Mr. Ghosn’s innocence, contending that Hiroto Saikawa, who was then Nissan’s chief govt, accredited the compensation plans that led to the arrests. “How come Ghosn and I had been abruptly arrested with out one occasion of being requested to clarify and no discussions or assembly on the topic,” he mentioned.
However then Mr. Kelly added, “I’m very proud to have labored for this superb firm, Nissan, for over 30 years. It has been an honor.”
Liz Alderman and Makiko Inoue contributed reporting.