Lawyers protest detention of Kelly, Ghosn's co-accused

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TOKYO (AP) — Lawyers for Greg Kelly, the American executive arrested last month with Nissan’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn on suspicion of underreporting Ghosn’s pay, unsuccessfully protested Wednesday his prolonged stay in Japanese detention.

The Tokyo District Court said it rejected the protest. Lawyers often file such protests in Japan, where suspects get detained for weeks, sometimes months, before they face trial. Such protests tend to be routinely rejected.

A similar protest filed by Ghosn’s lawyers was rejected Tuesday.

A Tokyo court has decided to detain Ghosn and Kelly at least through Dec. 20, although it could be longer.

Ghosn, Kelly and Nissan Motor Co. as a legal entity were charged Monday with violating financial laws by underreporting Ghosn’s pay by about 5 billion yen ($44 million) in 2011-2015.

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Prosecutors are also questioning Kelly and Ghosn about additional allegations prosecutors issued Monday that Ghosn’s compensation was underreported by another 4 billion yen ($36 million) in 2016-2018.

Ghosn’s lawyers have not issued a statement. Aubrey Harwell, the U.S. lawyer for Kelly, has said his client is innocent, and that Nissan insiders and outside experts had advised him the financial reporting was proper.

The maximum penalty for violating Japan’s financial laws is 10 years in prison, a 10 million yen ($89,000) fine, or both. The conviction rate in Japan is more than 99 percent.

Ghosn, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, was sent in by Nissan’s alliance partner Renault SA of France in 1999, when Nissan Motor Co. was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. For two decades, Ghosn led the Japanese automaker’s rise. The alliance, which now includes Mitsubishi Motors Corp., is now among the biggest in global sales.

Nissan has dismissed Ghosn as chairman and Kelly as a representative director.

Ghosn’s downfall is seen by some observers as a maneuver by others at Nissan to gain power in the alliance.

No trial date or bail has been set yet. Prosecutors say Ghosn and Kelly are flight risks. When Ghosn and Kelly might be released from the Tokyo Detention Center remains unclear.

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Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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