Former Nissan Motor Co. executive Greg Kelly maintained Wednesday his innocence against a charge that he helped his former boss Carlos Ghosn underreport his remuneration by billions of yen.

"I was not involved in a criminal conspiracy, and I am not guilty of any crime," Kelly, an American lawyer, said in a final hearing at the Tokyo District Court. The court will hand down the ruling on March 3.

Former Nissan Motor Co. executive Greg Kelly gives an interview to Kyodo News in Tokyo on Sept. 8, 2020, ahead of his trial starting Sept. 15 over alleged financial misconduct. The 63-year-old was arrested in November 2018 along with former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who jumped bail and fled to Lebanon in late 2019. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Nissan, which is also a defendant in the trial, said the crime was committed only to realize Ghosn's "self-interest" and claimed its responsibility is "relatively low." The Japanese automaker has pleaded guilty.

Kelly, 65, was a close aide of Ghosn, 67, who jumped bail to flee to Lebanon in late 2019.

Kelly, who was arrested in November 2018, has been indicted for making misstatements in Nissan's securities reports.

According to the indictment, he helped Ghosn conceal his remuneration from shareholders by around 9.1 billion yen ($80 million) over eight years through March 2018 in a scheme to give deferred payments to the once high-flying industry titan after retirement.

Late last month, Tokyo prosecutors sought a two-year prison term for Kelly, saying he and Toshiaki Onuma, a former chief secretary of Nissan, favored using a "backdoor remuneration" scheme.

Carlos Ghosn speaks during a press conference in Beirut in January 2020. (Anadolu Agency/Getty/Kyodo)

The prosecutors at the time argued the role could only have been performed by Kelly, "who was a strategist with knowledge of the law and trusted by the former chairman."

Under the scheme, Kelly and Onuma were set to make deferred payments to Ghosn under another pretext, according to the prosecutors.

Kelly and his defense team have denied the claim, saying he only took lawful actions to retain Ghosn because of his value as a business leader.

Onuma was exempted from prosecution under a plea bargain reached in November 2018, weeks before Ghosn and Kelly were arrested.

Prosecutors sought a penalty of 200 million yen for Nissan, saying proper oversight at the company was not in place.

Related coverage:

Ex-U.S. envoy Hagerty slams Japan's justice system over Nissan case

2-yr jail term sought for ex-Ghosn aide over financial misconduct