Part of Aomori’s funds dribble back from Chile

Kyodo

A public housing corporation in Aomori Prefecture whose former chief accountant stands accused of embezzling 1.45 billion yen and giving most of it to his Chilean wife has reported that about 73.6 million yen was deposited in its bank account from proceeds from her court-auctioned home.

The amount comes from 450 million pesos (about 74 million yen) a Chilean court made by selling Anita Alvarado’s luxury home to a local entrepreneur in late August.

The money was deposited into the account Tuesday by a Tokyo law firm commissioned by the Aomori Prefectural Housing Supply Public Corp., corporation officials said.

The Chilean court, which auctioned the home in Chicureo, on the outskirts of Santiago, first transferred the money to a Chilean law office, also commissioned by the corporation, which then deposited the money into the account of the Tokyo law firm.

Alvarado, 29, is the wife of Yuji Chida, 45, who has confessed to embezzling the funds and giving about 1.1 billion yen to Alvarado and her relatives. Alvarado claims she did not know the money was illegally obtained.

As part of efforts to reclaim the funds, the corporation filed a criminal charge in Chile in July against Alvarado for listing the property as her own; under Chilean law assets acquired in a marriage belong to the husband.

In July, the corporation asked the Chilean court to issue a seizure order for the home and other properties.

The court ordered them seized on Aug. 2, reportedly to prevent Alvarado from selling them. The residence was the largest of Alvarado’s properties there, which have a combined value of about 170 million yen, according to the housing corporation.

The corporation has also filed a damages suit against Chida with the Aomori District Court demanding that he return the embezzled money, and against 19 of its former senior officials for failing to detect the act.

Prosecutors in Aomori last month demanded a 15-year prison term for Chida, saying he bears criminal responsibility because the embezzled amount was equivalent to more than 300 times the average annual income of a local citizen, causing a profound social impact.

Chida was arrested in Tokyo last December on suspicion of embezzling 1.446 billion yen from the corporation over a seven-year period until October 2001. Chida had been in charge of accounting there until his arrest.