A government-backed loan recovery body filed a 4.83 billion yen damages suit Tuesday against Sumitomo Bank, alleging it played a role in the “jusen” housing-loan company fiasco.

In its first legal move against a bank for introducing risky borrowers to the now-failed jusen, Housing Loan Administration Corp. is seeking to make Sumitomo liable for three failed loans.

Housing Loan Administration Corp. was set up in 1996 to take over the bad loans of seven jusen that went bankrupt after their huge property loans became irrecoverable.

Corporation officials said it has found 134 cases of bad loans stemming from inappropriate behavior by banks, noting Sumitomo Bank is involved in 72 of them.

According to the petition filed at the Tokyo District Court, Chigin-Seiho Housing Loan Co., a failed jusen, in June 1990 loaned 5.5 billion yen to a Yokohama hospital operator that it was introduced by Sumitomo.

The operator lent the money to stock speculators and about half of it became irrecoverable, the petition says. Chigin-Seiho also loaned 2 billion yen to a real estate company in Kyoto Prefecture. The loan soured and Sumitomo allegedly failed to provide information about the debt-ridden firm, the petition says. It also blames Sumitomo Bank for a 125 million yen loan by Jusco Inc., another jusen, to a shop manager in Gifu Prefecture. “These three bad loans are only symbolic,” said Kohei Nakabo, the corporation’s president. “There are 69 others involving the bank and we will urge legal authorities to question the ethics of the bank as a whole.”

At its headquarters in Osaka, Sumitomo Bank said it will argue in court that it bears no responsibility for the jusen loans. In March, Nakabo said he planned to sue nine banks for their alleged involvement in the jusen failures, but he did not name them at the time.

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