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Nine senior defense officials, including high-ranking uniformed officers, in the past decade became executives of a defense supplier that was allegedly involved in a bill-padding scandal that surfaced in September, Defense Agency Secretariat Yasuhiro Ogoshi said Thursday.

The company in question, Toyo Communication Equipment Co., an affiliate of NEC Corp., is one of four firms that overcharged the agency for defense equipment by about 2.1 billion yen from fiscal 1988 to 1994. The agency was reimbursed by the four companies by fiscal 1995 — after the agency’s Central Procurement Office investigated the case and learned of the overcharge.

But a former deputy chief of the procurement office then allegedly acted in favor of Toyo Communication Equipment to reduce the amount of repayments.

According to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office, the 58-year-old former senior agency official, whose name is being withheld, is suspected of committing a breach of trust against the state, causing more than 1 billion yen in losses. Although the Defense Agency learned of the scandal in 1995, it neglected to go public with the case.

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