Nichiei staff deny extortion

OSAKA — Two former employees of the Kyoto-based moneylender Nichiei Co. pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that they used coercive methods to collect loans.

Mamoru Shimakawa, 51, and Tatsuya Kochi, 33, allegedly threatened a 62-year-old company president from Osaka Prefecture who had borrowed some 12 million yen from Nichiei.

One of the two told the company president to make money “even if you commit suicide,” according to the indictment. The two summoned the president to the company’s Osaka branch on Oct. 23, 1998, it said.

In addition, in January 1998, Kochi threatened a 48-year-old company president from Hyogo Prefecture after he failed to repay some 6 million yen in loans from Nichiei, the indictment said.

“Which do you want, to be sunk in the ocean or be buried on a mountain?” the indictment quoted Kochi as saying.

Prosecutors told the court that the Hyogo man, on the advice of his friends, recorded his telephone conversations with Kochi.

When Kochi was told that the conversations were being recorded, he immediately hung up, the prosecutors said, adding they believed the company was attempting to conceal the heavy-handed way in which outstanding loans were collected.