Swiss target fortune of loan shark

Kyodo

Authorities in Switzerland have launched procedures to seize 61 million Swiss francs, or roughly 5.3 billion yen, in a bank account opened in the name of a Japanese moneylender linked to an underworld syndicate, a Zurich prosecution official said Tuesday.

The moneylender, Susumu Kajiyama, 54, has been on trial before the Tokyo District Court on 14 charges related to loan-sharking and money-laundering.

The money has already been transferred to a public account managed by local prosecutors, according to the official.

Kajiyama, known as the “king of loan-sharking,” reportedly led a division of Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest underworld syndicate, to earn at least 9.4 billion yen through illegal usurious lending and laundered the money overseas.

Swiss authorities last year froze the money in Kajiyama’s account on suspicion that the account was opened for money-laundering.

The Zurich official said the Japanese government has the right to request repatriation of the money to Japan, but has not issued a request of this kind. Japan has no legal framework to request repatriation of Japanese assets confiscated overseas.

Zurich authorities will decide how to handle the money after consulting with the Japanese side, the official said.