The Ministry of Finance has begun studying whether new administrative penalties can be imposed on Nomura Securities Co. in connection with a bribery scandal that led to the arrest of two of its former executives, ministry sources said Monday.The ministry will look into whether the giant brokerage, rather than the arrested individuals alone, were to blame for the bribery, the sources said. Vice Finance Minister Takeshi Komura said a thorough study is needed to determine whether it is legally possible to take administrative action against Nomura. Komura said he is still not sure how the current allegations might be interpreted under the Securities and Exchange Law, violation of which could prompt the ministry to impose sanctions.On Sunday, Tokyo prosecutors arrested Naotaka Murasumi, a former Nomura vice president, and Isao Teranishi, a former Nomura managing director, for allegedly bribing Takehiko Isaka, director of accounting at the state-run Japan Highway Public Corp., with about 2.58 million yen worth of dinners and entertainment. Isaka, a retired Finance Ministry official, was also arrested.Article 35 of the Securities and Exchange Law permits the Finance Ministry to revoke a brokerage’s business license or order the firm to suspend operations even when the company violates other laws. The ministry has punished Japan’s three largest securities companies — Nomura, Daiwa and Nikko — for making payoffs to a corporate racketeer in violation of the Commercial Code. The earlier penalties on Nomura, imposed last summer over the payoff scandal, were lifted at the end of November.However, no punishment has ever been imposed in connection with a violation of the Criminal Code, which covers the latest case. The ministry will decide whether to punish Nomura after receiving the results of an investigation conducted by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office and the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission, the sources said. The Prosecutor’s Office began searching Monday the head office of the highway corporation and Nomura, both in Tokyo, as well as Isaka’s home in Urawa, Saitama Prefecture.Possible punishment by the ministry may include a ban on Nomura underwriting government bonds for a certain period, the sources said.
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