Three held over Iran remittance

JIJI, Kyodo

The Metropolitan Police Department arrested three people Wednesday at a Tokyo-based shipping firm on suspicion of sending money to an Iranian company in violation of international sanctions on Tehran.

Arrested were Kuniaki Mizushima, a 64-year-old executive with Ben Line Agencies (Japan) Ltd., Toshiaki Notake, 58, chief of the company’s accounting department, and Yuki Miyake, a 40-year-old employee.

They allegedly sent a total of ¥14 million in November 2011 and February 2012 to a Singaporean affiliate of Iran’s Hafize Darya Shipping Lines (HDSL) without approval of the industry minister, a violation of the Foreign Exchange Law.

This was the first domestic arrest in connection with U.N. sanctions that have put a freeze on Iranian assets. The Tokyo police raided seven locations, including the company’s main office, to investigate the flow of funds, police sources said.

The three admitted the remittances were made, but said they did not regard them as any legal violation, according to the sources.

HDSL is a spinoff of the container department of Iran’s state shipping company and was likely involved in the transportation of military goods, the sources added.

Ben Line served as HDSL’s agent in Japan but another company took over the role in 2011, with Ben Line taking charge of accounting for that firm. Police, however, suspect such deals were merely a front, the sources said.

“Fund flow to Iran, if left to continue, could remove the teeth from the economic sanctions,” a senior MPD officer said.