Ex-Nissan executive pleads not guilty

A former Nissan Motor executive has pleaded not guilty to a charge of underreporting the income of ousted chairman Carlos Ghosn.

Greg Kelly, Ghosn's close aide, attended the opening hearing of his trial at Tokyo District Court on Tuesday.

He is accused of understating Ghosn's compensation by more than 9.1 billion yen, or about 86 million dollars, in the carmaker's securities reports for eight years until March 2018.

Kelly, aged 64, said he denies the charge brought by prosecutors. He said Ghosn was an outstanding manager and was committed to protecting Nissan's independence.

Kelly said when Ghosn sought his advice about compensation, he consulted in-house lawyers and told the former chairman what could be done legally and what could not.

Nissan Motor, which is also a defendant in the trial, has accepted the charge of violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act.

The court proceedings are taking longer than usual as the indictments and Kelly's comments are being translated by interpreters.

Ghosn was arrested in Japan at the same time as Kelly in November 2018. However, Ghosn jumped bail in late 2019 and fled to Lebanon.