‘King of loan sharks’ to be sued for damages

Kyodo

More than 100 victims of a man considered the “king of loan sharks” are planning to file collective lawsuits against him seeking more than 100 million yen in damages, a nationwide network of lawyers tackling extortionate lending said Sunday.

Susumu Kajiyama, 54, the effective No. 2 figure in the Goryo-kai, a group affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest underworld syndicate, is currently on trial on charges including money lending involving illegally high interest rates.

The collective lawsuits are being planned as a measure not only to compensate the victims for their losses, but also to prevent Kajiyama’s financial resources from being used for criminal purposes, said Kenji Utsunomiya, a lawyer and member of the network.

“The lawsuits are aimed at recovery of damages and at the same time preventing his huge amounts of money from becoming financial resources for crime syndicates,” Utsunomiya told Kyodo News.

Police have found more than 5 billion yen worth of assets in a Swiss bank account in the name of Kajiyama. The account has been frozen, but it appears unlikely that all of its contents can be confiscated as profits made from criminal acts.

Under Japanese law, it is difficult to confiscate the full amount of money that criminals have earned from extortionate lending as only that which can be proved through analysis to be from the victims’ money transfer activities can be seized.

In addition, profits that come from the portion of interest charged by loan sharks beyond the legal cap cannot be confiscated.

According to the lawyers’ network, complaints have been made against a combined total of 25,000 loan shark businesses since September 2002.

Of these businesses, the network is identifying those affiliated with the Goryo-kai with the cooperation of investigators, and in the suits the victims will seek money they lost as well as payments for the suffering they endured over unscrupulous collection methods.