The Tokyo District Court sentenced a former Finance Ministry bank inspector to a suspended 28-month prison term Friday for accepting 4.47 million yen in bribes from five major banks.

Toshimi Taniuchi, 49, formerly of the ministry’s financial inspectors office, was also fined 4.47 million yen — the amount of the bribes. His sentencing follows the suspended sentence handed down Thursday to former ministry bank inspector Koichi Miyagawa, who was tried on the same charge.

The court said Taniuchi accepted the bribes in the form of wining and dining on 91 occasions between September 1993 and September 1997 from Sanwa Bank, Tokyo-Mitsubishi Bank, Sumitomo Bank, the now-defunct Hokkaido Takushoku Bank and Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank.

In return, Taniuchi leaked information on the ministry’s bank inspection schedule to the banks and also favored Tokyo-Mitsubishi Bank when the ministry issued directives on a new financial product the bank introduced, the court said.

In handing down the ruling, presiding Judge Manabu Yamazaki said Taniuchi’s act of providing the inspection schedule to the financial institutions “spoiled the financial administration.”

“The act could have resulted in taking the teeth out of the inspection system,” Yamazaki said, criticizing Taniuchi for being deeply caught up in the long-held practice of major banks entertaining ministry officials.

Taniuchi pleaded guilty to all the charges leveled against him at his first trial hearing in April. Prosecutors had demanded a three-year prison term and 4.47 million yen in fines.

According to the court, Taniuchi accepted the bribes in such forms as golf and restaurant outings from Sanwa to the tune of 1.62 million yen, 1.39 million yen from Tokyo-Mitsubishi and 695,800 yen from Sumitomo. He accepted 426,900 yen worth of entertainment from Hokkaido Takushoku Bank and 329,200 yen from DKB.

During the trial, Taniuchi’s lawyers argued that such wining and dining by banks was customary for ministry officials and thus it is unfair to single out the defendant for participating in such practices.

But the judge dismissed this argument, saying Taniuchi could have carried out his duty as an inspector without exposing himself to favors. The Finance Ministry should share the blame for such corruption, he added.

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