By YURI KAGEYAMA, AP Business writer
Tokyo (AP) – Hirato Saikawa, a former Nissan chief executive, told a Japanese court on Wednesday that he believed the compensation for his predecessor Carlos Ghosn was “far below international standards”, and so he prevented him from leaving Supported the retirement package of Ghosn.
“Mr. C. Ghosn had outstanding abilities and accomplishments,” Saikawa said, testifying in Tokyo District Court in the criminal trial of Greg Kelly, a former senior executive at Nissan Motor Company.
In response to the prosecutor’s question, he said, “We needed to prepare for Mr. Ghosh’s eventual retirement to keep him motivated and continue working for Nissan.”
Saikawa worked closely with Ghosan and in 2017 Ghosn succeeded as CEO. After Ghosn’s arrest in November 2018, he condemned Ghosn.
Saikawa resigned in September 2019, after which questions on his own compensation were raised. He denied wrongdoing and was not charged.
He said in sympathetic tone on Tuesday, the court said he signed several draft documents on the remuneration package for Ghosn, including retirement pay, advisory fees and a non-compete agreement to prevent a competitor from carrying.
Saikawa said he signed the first such document before Ghosn, and others with Kelly, who was overseeing compensation efforts.
Kelly claims his innocence in a lawsuit that began last year. Kelly, an American, has been accused of financial misconduct for failing to fully disclose Ghosn’s future compensation. Apart from Ghosn and Kelly, no one else has been charged at Nissan.
Ghosn led Nissan for two decades, rescuing the Japanese automaker from the brink of collapse. He is accused of siphoning off income of about 1 billion yen ($ 10 million) a year over several years and breach trust.
Asked why he signed the documents, Saikawa said he trusted Kelly.
“He is an expert and a professional, and he was coming up with proposals with an understanding of the overall process. If he was saying that, there could be no mistake,” Saikawa told the court.
Witnesses and prosecutors have stated that Ghosn made a deduction for half of what he was getting after securities officials began requiring such disclosures in 2010.
Ghosn also says that he is innocent. He escaped on bail in late 2019, and is now in Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.
Separately, Japan is seeking the extradition of Michael Gossin and his son Peter Taylor, to make Ghosn accused of smuggling out of Japan. They are now being held in a suburban Boston jail. Earlier this month, an American judge cleared the way for both to be handed over to Japan.
Kelly’s trial is expected to last several more months before a panel of three judges. More than 99% of Japanese criminal trials are criminal.
Nissan, which has been charged as the company, confessed to the crime. But it is still a permanent test, as is the standard in Japan.
Yuri Kagyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
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