Prosecutors appeared ready June 13 to launch a full-fledged investigation of Ichiro Fujita, vice president of Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, over his suspected involvement in the bank’s illicit loans to a “sokaiya” corporate extortionist.

Fujita, 58, was named senior managing director in charge of loan screening at the city bank in April 1995. He is suspected of having approved some of the loans to Ryuichi Koike, a former leader of a sokaiya group, via Daiwa Shinyo, a nonbank finance firm affiliated with DKB, knowing that the loans were effectively illegal benefits, informed sources said. Dubious loans via Daiwa Shinyo to Koike totaled 20 billion yen, they said.

The investigation can include questioning and Fujita could be arrested. So far, prosecutors have arrested eight former and incumbent DKB officials in connection with the loan scandal.

Also likely to be subject to the investigation is 56-year-old Takeo Fukushima, senior DKB managing director in charge of loan screening, the sources said. The loan scandal is expected to lead to top DKB officials facing criminal charges.

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