Greg Kelly, the discreet second role of the Ghosn affair propelled to the front line

Greg Kelly, the discreet second role of the Ghosn affair propelled to the front line

© Supplied by La Tribune
Greg Kelly, former collaborator of Carlos Ghosn at Nissan, is seen in a car, after being released from a detention center in Tokyo, Japan, December 25, 2018.

Since the escape of Carlos Ghosn, Greg Kelly, his former collaborator at Nissan also prosecuted in Japan, feels even more alone in front of the lawsuit which awaits him. He recently told AFP his dismay, tinged with vague hopes.

The his former boss’s flight to Lebanon in late December first left him “stunned”, says this 63 year old American. “I was completely taken by surprise”, he assures, however cautiously refraining from judging this escape.

The main accused no longer in Japan, “It seems to me rather difficult to really have a fair trial. How do you want to deal with this case in a logical way?”, he wonders.

Your humble, simple and discreet style: Greg Kelly looks like an antithesis of Carlos Ghosn, which he assures was not the “confidant” or the right arm, contrary to what the media often claim.

At Nissan, “I only met Carlos Ghosn twice a month […]. We were not close personally. We were only talking about work “, he says.

And yet, for almost a year and a half, his fate has been closely linked to the fallen automobile tycoon.

As former head of human resources and legal affairs at Nissan, Mr. Kelly is accused in Japan of having helped Mr. Ghosn to conceal from the stock market authorities several tens of millions of euros of income which he was to receive later .

A trial date has yet to be set.

Also read: Talking about “conspiracy”, Carlos Ghosn avoids the angry questions

Sport against stress

Like his former boss, Mr. Kelly claims to have “nothing criminally reprehensible in Japan” and still finds it hard to believe he faces up to ten years in prison.

“For me, that could have been resolved within Nissan. If there was an error on the mention of something which was never validated and never paid …”, he says.

Greg Kelly was arrested along with Mr. Ghosn in november 2018, after landing in Japan where Nissan had summoned him, citing, he said, an important meeting of the board of directors, of which he was a member.

He then spent more than a month in solitary confinement when he originally planned to return to the United States as soon as possible to undergo surgery for lumbar stenosis.

“It was really painful”, he says, explaining that he had to patiently convince his guards that he could not sit on the floor of his cell, as required by the regulations.

“I’m not the type of person who will knock on the door and yell” to be heard, he slips.

As soon as he was released on bail, he was operated on by a surgeon in Japan with whom he is satisfied, although he still suffers from numbness in his arms, legs and feet, which sometimes cause him to fall.

No question, however, for him to give up his daily morning run around the Tokyo Imperial Palace, very close to the small apartment he rents with his wife Donna: “It relieves stress”, he says.


The couple lead a funny existence in Tokyo, constrained and rather lonely, far from their two sons and grandchildren in the United States, whom Mr. Kelly cannot visit, prohibited from leaving Japan.

Because of his charges, he is also prohibited from contacting many of his friends, former or current Nissan employees.

Photos of loved ones adorn the walls of the couple’s clean two-room apartment. “It’s not our home here. We just call it ‘the apartment’, says Ms. Kelly.

He spends a large part of his days with his Japanese lawyers, consulting a mountain of computer documents provided by prosecutors, some of which they say contain documents against him. Except he doesn’t know which ones.

His wife takes Japanese lessons to justify the student visa she took to stay permanently in Japan with her husband. “You can’t miss the courses and you have to pass the exams”, she warns.

“It makes no sense to be here in this situation”, says Mr. Kelly, who says to himself “frustrated”. But without cursing Nissan, the company for which he worked for almost thirty years: “I want Nissan to go well”.

Now that Carlos Ghosn has evaporated, “maybe there could be a way to resolve” this situation, he hopes vaguely. “I don’t know what’s going to happen […]. We live day by day. “


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