TOKYO — More than three years after former Nissan director Greg Kelly was jailed during a business trip to Japan, a Tokyo court will rule whether the American is guilty of helping his former boss Carlos Ghosn allegedly hide more than $80 million in deferred compensation.
A three-judge panel delivers its verdict March 3 in Tokyo District Court, issuing a closely watched decision that has become a lightning rod of corporate and diplomatic maneuvering.
If the judges accept Kelly's defense argument, the former human resources executive from Tennessee could finally be heading home for the first time since his arrest on Nov. 19, 2018. If not, Kelly could be spending two years here locked in prison, per prosecutors' demands.
But there are other possible outcomes to the drawn-out trial, which began Sept. 15, 2020.
There could be a guilty verdict with a suspended sentence, which would allow Kelly to avoid prison. Kelly's attorney says under such circumstances Kelly may even be allowed to leave Japan.
On the flip side, the rules of Japan's justice system also permit prosecutors to appeal acquittals — and they routinely do so. In that scenario, the case could grind on even if the court clears Kelly.
In a series of interviews with Japanese media ahead of the judgment, Kelly vowed to appeal any guilty verdict. But he didn't think it would come to that — he sees only an acquittal.
"I don't believe I will be convicted," he told Japan's Asahi newspaper. "There is no crime in the first place."
Working against Kelly, however, is a justice system that boasts a 99 percent conviction rate.