Nomura ex-chief denies knowledge of ‘sokaiya’ payoffs

Yoshihisa Tabuchi, former president of Nomura Securities Co., maintained June 5 in unsworn Diet testimony that he had nothing to do with the alleged illegal payoffs by the nation’s largest brokerage to a “sokaiya” corporate extortionist.

But six Lower House members who questioned Tabuchi during the day’s Diet session all cast doubt on his denials. Appearing before the Lower House Budget Committee, Tabuchi repeatedly said he had never met sokaiya Ryuichi Koike and had had no knowledge of him until the scandal broke. Koike was arrested last month on suspicion of receiving about 50 million yen in payoffs from Nomura.

Tabuchi, president until 1991 and currently an adviser to Nomura, also denied that his successor, Hideo Sakamaki, who was arrested last week for allegedly playing a key role in the payoffs, frequently consulted with him on ways to handle Koike. “I gave no instructions (to Sakamaki), nor did (Sakamaki) ask me for advice (about Koike’s case),” Tabuchi said. “I have never seen Koike, either.”

Motohisa Ikeda, a Democratic Party of Japan member and one of the six lawmakers who questioned Tabuchi, said it is impossible that Tabuchi played no role in the payoffs, given his position and close relationship with Sakamaki. Ikeda said he heard that Sakamaki was Tabuchi’s closest subordinate when the latter was Nomura president and Sakamaki vice president. Even after Tabuchi bowed out in 1991, Sakamaki consulted him whenever he had to make a decision on sensitive or important matters, he said.

Tabuchi replied by claiming that it is his belief that he was not asked by Sakamaki to give advice so frequently and that Sakamaki was “only one of five vice presidents” at the time. Tabuchi said he was not aware Sakamaki had once met Koike until Sakamaki admitted it in unsworn testimony before the Upper House last week.

Sakamaki allegedly was notified in advance about the payments to Koike that Nomura made on a number of occasions from January to June 1995. It is believed Koike was threatening to disrupt Nomura’s annual shareholders’ meeting in June 1995, in which the controversial return of Tabuchi and former Chairman Setsuya Tabuchi to the company’s board of directors needed to be approved.