Japanese Politician Arrested on ¥7 million Casino-Related Graft Charges8 months ago
Bribery and corruption allegations surrounding three proposed casino resorts in Japan have seen the former Vice Minister of Tourism, Tsukasa Akimoto, indicted and served with a fresh arrest warrant for allegedly receiving money from a Chinese gambling operator…
Akimoto stands accused of accepting cash and gifts totalling almost ¥7 million (US$63,700) from 500.com Ltd, with prosecutors claiming that the bribery was aimed at increasing the number of casino resorts.
The Chinese firm, an online sports lottery service provider, had apparently already shown interest in one of the proposed resorts, in Hokkaido.
Among the bribes that 48-year old Akimoto allegedly accepted according to The Japan Times newspaper were:
- ¥3 million ($27,300) ‘in cash at his office in Tokyo on Sept. 28, 2017’;
- ¥2 million ($18,200) in additional payments, for which the fresh warrant was served;
- ¥1.5 million ($13,650) cost of a trip to 500.com’s Shenzhen headquarters in 2017 that ‘constituted bribery’
- ¥700,000 ($6,370) in expenses ‘for his family’s trip to Rusutsu, Hokkaido in 2017’
Akimoto, a former member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, was the man in charge of overseeing implementation of Japanese government policy related to their Integrated Resorts Promotion Act (IRPA) that was passed in 2016.
He has refuted any wrongdoing, claiming he has no memory of receiving cash and that his (now former) secretary, Akihiro Toyoshima, also indicted, was in charge of trip finances.
It is believed 11 operators are interested in the three licences being offered, but public support has been thin on the ground after two other cabinet members were arrested last year on graft charges.
In addition to Akimoto’s arrest, three others were also served with fresh arrest warrants this week, including 37-year old Zheng Xi, a former executive of the Chinese firm’s Japanese unit.
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