COMPUTER UNITS DUCKED TAXES

Aum firms’ accounts seized

The Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau has seized bank deposits of a company affiliated with Aum Shinrikyo after the firm failed to pay income and punitive taxes as demanded by the bureau, sources familiar with the case said Monday.

The bureau had ordered the personal computer sales company and another company affiliated with the cult to pay a combined 700 million yen in income tax and penalties, after the firms failed to declare some 700 million yen in taxable income in 1997 and 1998, the sources said.

The presidents and employees of the two firms, which were established around 1995, are Aum members, according to police sources.

Poseidon, the company selling personal computers, had premises in Tokyo’s Akihabara district. The other company, based in Tokyo’s Taito Ward, is a computer parts wholesaler called SBR.

The two companies closed their shops and became dormant after the tax bureau began investigating them in June, the sources said. Poseidon had only 40,000 yen in its bank account when the account was seized by the tax bureau, they said.

On March 21, the tax bureau ordered Poseidon and SBR to pay the tax and penalties, according to the sources.

Usually, payment must be made within a month from the day such an order is issued, but the bureau had demanded payment by early April, the sources said.

The bureau is expected to seize more property of companies linked with Aum, which now calls itself Aleph, the sources said.

But because the bureau has found few assets belonging to the two companies, it will be difficult for authorities to collect the tax the firms fail to pay, they said.

In December, the government established a law aimed at collecting the assets of Aum and its affiliated companies and groups to redress those victimized by crimes blamed on the cult.

But if the bureau continues to seize the properties of the two companies, less money will be available for redress.

Computer software companies affiliated with Aum were recently reported to have produced software for a number of government offices and major companies.

Aum founder Shoko Asahara, whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto, and other members of the cult have been tried or are on trial for murder and other charges, in connection with the March 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system and other crimes.