Nissan asks Tokyo court for leniency on Ghosn’s charges

TOKYO, Oct.27 (Reuters) – A lawyer for Nissan Motor Co. (7201.T) on Wednesday asked a Tokyo court for leniency when it sentenced the company on charges that enabled the ousted president, Carlos Ghosn, to hide income from the Japanese authorities.

Nissan, which has previously pleaded guilty, is on trial alongside former executive Greg Kelly, who has denied charges that he helped his former boss hide 9.3 billion yen ($ 81.8 million) from Ghosn’s income over eight years through deferred payments.

Prosecutors seek a 200 million yen fine for the automaker and two years in prison for Kelly, for violating regulations introduced in 2010 that required company executives to earn more than one billion yen per year to disclose their compensation.

In his final court statements, Nissan’s attorney said the company had already seen its reputation tarnished by the accusations and had not benefited from Ghosn’s alleged actions.

The lawyer added that the automaker was already facing fines from Japanese financial regulators and had strengthened its corporate governance to guard against further violations.

Kelly’s legal team submitted a 497-page document claiming that emails and documents presented as evidence during the year-long trial did not show that there had been a conspiracy or agreement to defer compensation for Ghosn.

“There was no crime. Carlos Ghosn was never paid anything. And there was no binding agreement,” said Kelly, who has been in Japan for three years since his arrest. and his release on bail, to journalists in court. “A lot of senior executives were worried that we wouldn’t hold him back. “

A decision in this case is expected next year. The conviction rate in Japan is around 99%.

Ghosn, who fled to Lebanon in late 2019 hiding in the luggage of a private jet, also denies any wrongdoing.

He also faces separate breach of trust charges which allege he made a fortune at Nissan’s expense through payments of $ 5 million to a Middle Eastern car dealership and temporarily transferring financial losses. personal data in his employer’s books.

Ghosn and Kelly both say they are victims of a coup by former colleagues fearing that Ghosn will push through a merger between Nissan and Renault SA (RENA.PA), its main shareholder.

Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Jason Neely and David Holmes

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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