Pair accused of taking murder victim’s money

OSAKA — A former official of a defunct Osaka credit cooperative and another man were arrested May 20 for allegedly withdrawing about 74 million yen from the account of a moneylender who was stabbed to death in late March 1996.

The two were named as Tadashi Fujiwara, 39, former acting head of Osaka Shinyo Kumiai’s Tsukamoto branch, and Noboru Tanaka, 46, the former president of a printing company.

Moneylender Naoki Sugihara, 48, from Higashi-Osaka, had deposited about 360 million yen at the Tsukamoto branch of the credit cooperative. He was stabbed to death March 30, 1996, in the stairwell of his apartment building and the case remains unsolved.

Police allege that Fujiwara and Tanaka withdrew about 74 million yen from Sugihara’s account on several occasions after last June. Police suspect the pair may have taken more money from the victim’s account because a total of about 240 million yen had been withdrawn from his account, which had contained 360 million yen.

Meanwhile, Tokushi Kawase, former head of Osaka Shinyo Kumiai, pleaded guilty May 19 to being involved in illegal loans by the cooperative. Kawase, 72, admitted charges of breach of trust at the Osaka District Court in the first hearing of his trial, in which he and Susumu Hayashi, president of a related financial firm, stand accused. Hayashi, 63, however, told presiding Judge Masazo Ogura that he was not involved in a conspiracy with Kawase.

Osaka Shinyo Kumiai, beset with massive nonperforming loans due to lax management, transferred its operations to Tokai Bank, a city bank based in Nagoya, after it was liquidated in February. In September 1993, the cooperative provided 1.59 billion yen in loans to Hayashi’s company via another firm effectively run by Kawase.