A Japanese court approved a bail request Tuesday for Nissan Motor Co. executive Greg Kelly, who was detained and charged with underreporting the income of his boss, former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn.
Tokyo District Court said the American Kelly will be released on 70 million yen ($635,600) bail. The money was later paid by cash, and his release could come before the end of the day, after 37 days in custody.
Kelly and Ghosn have been detained in Tokyo since their Nov. 19 arrest. They are charged with underreporting Ghosn's pay by about 5 billion yen ($44 million) in 2011-2015.
Kelly's Japanese lawyer sought bail after the court dismissed prosecutors' request for more detention for the two to investigate their second allegation of underreporting Ghosn's 4-billion-yen ($36 million) pay.
Charges for an underreporting allegation in more recent years are pending, and no trial date has been set.
Ghosn would be detained until Jan. 1 or longer since he also faces breach of trust allegations.
Prosecutors say Ghosn and Kelly are flight risks. After release, Kelly would have to follow the rules set by the court, including his residence, travel and other conditions, prosecutors have said.
They challenged the court approval of Kelly's bail, and if that is again denied by the court, Kelly could be released later Tuesday and go to a hospital for treatment on his neck, Japanese media say. He would have to follow conditions set by the court, including restrictions on travel, place of residence and meeting with Nissan officials.
The arrests of an industry icon and his right-hand man have triggered international attention and raised concerns about the Japanese practice of extended detentions.
Nissan has removed Kelly as representative director and Ghosn as chairman, but they are still the company's board members. The board of Renault SA, the French ally of Nissan, has retained him while naming an interim chair, while Mitsubishi took a measure similar to Nissan.
Kelly, 62, joined Nissan North American in 1988 and worked in legal counsel and human resources at the company, and has been a member of the automaker's board since 2012.
His American lawyer, Aubrey Harwell, has said he is innocent and that he only acted according to the law and according to company policy. Ghosn has also denied the allegations and told lawyers that he is determined to prove his innocence in court, according to Japanese media reports.
The scandal also raised concerns over the Japanese automaker and the future of its alliance with Renault, which in 1999 sent Ghosn to turn around Nissan, then on the verge of bankruptcy. He has since led Nissan's rise to the world's second-largest automaker.
Ghosn's downfall is seen by some as a manoeuvre by others at Nissan to gain power in the alliance.
Kelly's wife, Donna Kelly, urged the Japanese authorities for her husbands' early release in a video message carried Tuesday by Japan's NHK public television and other networks. She said that her husband was "framed" by Nissan and that he also should be released to get his neck problem treated.
"Release Greg and allow him to come home and have the surgery he needs," she said.
"That is our family's Christmas wish." Kelly reportedly suffers from spinal stenosis, a condition of a narrowing of the spaces in the spine that can cause pain, tingling or numbness.
Kelly had been scheduled to undergo surgery in Nashville in early December, according to media reports. (AP) AMS AMS