crime

Lawmaker in casino scandal indicted on bribery charge

14 Comments

A Japanese lawmaker who spearheaded the country's casino resort policy was indicted Tuesday on a bribery charge and served with a fresh arrest warrant for allegedly receiving more money from a Chinese gambling operator.

Tsukasa Akimoto, a former member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling party, is suspected of receiving an additional 2 million yen from the Chinese company, 500.com Ltd, as well as having expenses of around 1.5 million yen covered by the company for a trip to its Shenzhen headquarters in 2017, despite knowing it was seeking favorable treatment related to casino business, prosecutors said.

Along with the new allegations, Akimoto was charged for receiving 3 million yen in cash from 500.com at his office in Tokyo on Sept 28, 2017, and having the company pay about 760,000 yen of expenses linked to a family trip to Rusutsu, Hokkaido, from Feb 10 to 13, 2018.

It is the first time in a decade that a Japanese lawmaker has been indicted.

The Tokyo prosecutors believe Akimoto received over 7 million yen. in bribes from 500.com.

The 48-year-old House of Representatives member, who resigned from the Liberal Democratic Party following his arrest on Dec. 25, has denied any wrongdoing, saying he does not remember receiving cash and his secretary dealt with all payments for his trips, according to a defense lawyer.

Japan recently legalized casinos to be operated at so-called integrated resorts with hotels and conference facilities, in the hope of attracting more foreign tourists and supporting the economy after the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics later this year.

The Chinese company had been asking Akimoto to increase the number of planned casino resort locations in Japan to five since January 2018, around the time it expressed an interest in becoming involved in a casino project in Hokkaido, according to close sources.

Akimoto was known as a vocal supporter of legalizing casinos and was in charge of overseeing the government policy aimed at introducing the resorts when he served as a senior vice minister at the Cabinet Office for about a year through October 2018.

While declining to comment on the new allegations against Akimoto, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government will advance preparations for the introduction of the integrated resorts.

On Tuesday, the prosecutors also indicted Akimoto's former secretary Akihiro Toyoshima, 41, in connection with the case.

Three other people -- Zheng Xi, 37, a former executive of the Chinese firm's Japanese unit, and Masahiko Konno, 48, and Katsunori Nakazato, 47, who both served as advisers to the gambling operator -- were also charged with bribery and served with fresh arrest warrants on Tuesday for a separate allegation of bribery.

Zheng and Konno were also charged for bringing 15 million yen in cash into Japan without notifying authorities about it in violation of the foreign exchange law. The law requires people to report when they are bringing in cash worth 1 million yen and over.

© KYODO

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

14 Comments
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It is the first time in a decade that a Japanese lawmaker has been indicted.

Like this is supposed to mean something here? To me it's more a lack of any cojones on the part of the prosecutors and police to investigate those who are suspected of wrongdoing.

And that goes to the very top of the ladder too!

10 ( +13 / -3 )

The Tokyo prosecutors believe Akimoto received over 7 million yen. in bribes from 500.com.

He was originally charged with receiving 1 million yen, which myself and many other people concluded there must have been more than ten grand involved. This joker is also accused of using company funds for private vacations and investments. Does this sound familiar to Ghosn’s corporate coup? However, in this case, I’m sure this joker is as guilty as the day is long. Will he be incarcerated indefinitely and disallowed any contact with the outside world?

14 ( +15 / -1 )

I can still see this guy in front of the TV cameras, claiming with a straight face that he had positively, definitely and without any doubt, not received even 1 Yen.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Despite the small amounts involved I think the pertinent issue is 'not reporting/notification of payments received'. A good mechanism imho.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

While declining to comment on the new allegations against Akimoto, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government will advance preparations for the introduction of the integrated resorts.

What? no reflection on the corruption of the cair of the Pannel who's recommendations were accepted. Just advance the preparations as they are? No inquiry. Double down on the corruption? Can see this whole enterprise imploding in the future.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

You know when managers and directors of companies are embroiled in scandal and the Chairman or President comes out and resigns to ‘take responsibility for the trouble caused’...why does this never happen with political scandals?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I get the feeling that this guy will get put away, he's from an opposition party and they have him dead to rights and the public will demand his head. Just pin everything on him so that those in the "correct" party who are also likely involved will evade any additional investigation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It is the first time in a decade that a Japanese lawmaker has been indicted.

Like this is supposed to mean something here? To me it's more a lack of any cojones on the part of the prosecutors and police to investigate those who are suspected of wrongdoing.

And that goes to the very top of the ladder too!

In other words, you can't believe the Japanese system is so clean because your own country is corrupt

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

was he actually put in jail?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Nailed on 'Suspended Sentence.'

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Oh please say it isn't so. Way to crush my faith in humanity.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sumikonagoyaToday  12:56 pm JST

In other words, you can't believe the Japanese system is so clean because your own country is corrupt

Why do you say this? Do you know from which country the original poster (Yubaru) comes? Or are you ‘always so wise‘ that you can make such assumptions?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I would suggest this is only The Tip of the Iceberg.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Because he is Japanese, they will take some of his money, he's gonna bow and the police will tell him "Don't do this again! ^wink wink^"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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