At the time, Nissan executive Hari Nada, working with Japanese prosecutors under a plea-bargain deal, called Kelly at his home near Nashville, telling him he was needed in Japan for urgent business. Nada even had Nissan hire a charter jet to fetch him.
"This is a violation of the U.S.-Japanese extradition treaty," Kelly attorney James Wareham said. "He was lied to by a private actor who was acting on the direction of the state of Japan."
Wareham contrasted that with the handling of two Americans currently fighting extradition to Japan, where they are accused of helping Ghosn escape from house arrest in Tokyo to flee to Lebanon at the end of 2019. Those individuals were first picked up by U.S. authorities and fought extradition in court. Even though the U.S. State Department has ruled they can be sent to Japan, the matter is under continued review.
"Kelly never got that," Wareham said. "He never got the State Department's examination. He never got his day in court.
"International law has been violated, and there might be remedies."
Kelly is accused of conspiring with Ghosn to conceal more than $80 million in deferred compensation when Ghosn was Nissan chairman and CEO. At Kelly's criminal trial, his Japanese attorney took aim at Toshiaki Ohnuma, another plea bargainer and witness for the state.
Ohnuma, who took the stand in September and is expected to keep testifying into December, says he was personally involved in exploring various payment schemes for Ghosn and ultimately helped set up a deferred compensation arrangement that prosecutors say broke the law.
But the courtroom testimony so far has not shown that any of Ghosn's underlings settled on a way to disburse the funds because they couldn't seem to find a legal way that wouldn't require disclosure.
Aside from Kelly, who was a senior human resources executive with Nissan, a small army of other executives and managers was wrapped up in the work, according to court testimony.
That emerging picture has opened an as-yet-unanswered question as to why the American executive was singled out for Japanese prosecution.