TOKYO — The star witness for Japanese prosecutors finished testifying against Nissan Motor Co. and its former U.S. human resources executive Greg Kelly this month, portraying a dysfunctional corporate culture in which company boss Carlos Ghosn signed his own paychecks and top brass were afraid to challenge him.
But testimony to date has shown only a tenuous link between Kelly and the alleged scheme to hide more than $80 million in deferred compensation to the former chairman.
The trial continues this week, with Kelly, 64, sitting in hearings scheduled on Christmas Day, which is not a public holiday in Japan, where Buddhism and the native Shinto religions are the main faiths.
Kelly's wife, Dee, who came from their Tennessee home to be with her husband for the trial, said rescheduling the Christmas trial date was a nonstarter with Japanese authorities.
In his testimony so far, Toshiaki Ohnuma, Nissan's general manager of the Secretariat division, which handles executive pay, said he worked closely with Ghosn on various pay plans that Ohnuma considered illegal.
He said he worked on the proposals with several Nissan executives, including Kelly, and two other people in his Secretariat division. But when cross-examined about Kelly's role, Ohnuma recalled sometimes fuzzy memories and conceded Kelly often wasn't involved.
Ohnuma testified that he couldn't remember whether some documents outlining the postponed remuneration were actually shown to Kelly. Other times, Ohnuma said they were.
Ohnuma seemed to offer conflicting accounts as to whether Kelly had been shown other documents only in their draft state, or shown them after they had been signed by Ghosn.
When executive compensation was being finalized at the end of a fiscal year, Kelly was usually not involved in the process, Ohnuma said. Kelly was shown the final amount to be paid only in cases when Ghosn said it was OK to show him, the witness said.