TOKYO (AP) — A Nissan employee testified Tuesday that he worked with another former Nissan executive, American Greg Kelly to find ways to pay the automaker’s former chairman, Carlos Ghosn without fully disclosing his compensation.
Toshiaki Ohnuma, a star witnesses for the prosecution, described to the Tokyo District Court his job in human resources at Nissan Motor Co., where he said he handled executive compensation matters, including working with Kelly on finding ways to pay Ghosn without disclosing it.
Disclosing annual executive pay over 100 million yen (about $1 million) became a requirement in Japan from 2010. Ghosn had been getting about 10 times that. Japanese executives who get giant paychecks are rare, and Nissan was leery of public criticism over the issue.
After 2014, Kelly handed over his duties dealing with pay to another Nissan executive, Hari Nada, Ohnuma said. Nada also is scheduled to be a witness for the prosecution.
In a statement as the trial opened earlier this month, Kelly stressed that the compensation plans were intended to be a legal way to keep Ghosn at Nissan. Famous for leading Nissan’s turnaround in the late 1990s, Ghosn might have opted for other high-paying jobs.
The prosecutors for the case have told the court that a deal was made with Ohnuma and Nada.
In a recent briefing to reporters, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Hiroshi Yamamoto declined comment on that, saying such deals don’t have to be made public.
“The prosecutors have properly charged those who needed to be charged,” Yamamoto told reporters.
Yokohama-based Nissan as a company was charged and pleaded guilty. It is being tried with Kelly in the same court.
The trial is expected to last about a year.
Earlier, prosecutors outlined how several people at Nissan were involved in promising Ghosn pay, exploring various methods, such as stock options, pay through overseas companies and consulting fees.
Prosecutors have not explained how trying to avoid disclosure of unpaid compensation constitutes a crime. Prosecution for falsifying financial reports is rare in Japan.