Mizuho lays mob loan mess to 3/11


Mizuho Bank turned a blind eye to improper loans to yakuza for more than two years as it grappled with a massive system glitch shortly after the March 2011 disaster, according to an investigative panel.

The Mizuho-appointed third-party panel, chaired by lawyer Hideki Nakagome, is investigating why the core banking unit of Mizuho Financial Group Inc. failed to stop lending to “anti-social groups” via group consumer credit company Orient Corp., also known as Orico.

Next week, the panel will interview the leaders of the Mizuho group, including Yasuhiro Sato, president of the bank and the holding company.

In July 2010, then-Mizuho Bank President Satoru Nishibori was aware of loans by Orient to the underworld. Before Mizuho Financial made Orient a group company, Nishibori directed the bank to consider launching an in-house investigation and measures.

In February 2011, loans to yakuza were reported at a board meeting of the bank. Following the quake and tsunami that devastated the northeast the following month, a system glitch occurred as the bank’s accounts were flooded with donations.

That June, Nishibori resigned to take responsibility for the glitch. The panel noted that countermeasures against the loans provided to the mob were left up in the air.

Nonetheless, documents related to the transactions were submitted to a board meeting of the bank in July 2011 and two board meetings of Mizuho Financial in July 2011 and January 2012. The Mizuho Bank leaders who succeeded Nishibori are suspected of postponing countermeasures.

To learn why the loans were left untouched, the panel will interview Nishibori’s successor, Takashi Tsukamoto, and Sato.

In a related move Wednesday, Orient submitted a report on the matter to the industry ministry.