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The recent fund-skimming scandal involving arrested Lower House lawmaker Yojiro Nakajima would not have broke if he had been less stingy, one of his close aides has told police, investigative sources said Monday.

Nakajima, 39, a third-term Lower House member, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of misappropriating 12 million yen from 20 million yen in political subsidies given to the branch in the No. 3 Gunma district in 1996 and 1997 by forging receipts. He resigned the same day.

Shigeaki Myoen, 65, Nakajima’s first secretary, who was also arrested, has told police there would not have been a scandal had Nakajima paid “retirement allowances” to two former secretaries when they left his office, the sources said.

In February, the two secretaries, one of whom has been identified as Koichi Kaneko, 37, resigned after a dispute over money problems with Nakajima and Yasushige Iida, 61, a member of the Ota Municipal Assembly in Gunma Prefecture and chief accountant of the Liberal Democratic Party’s branch in the No. 3 Gunma electoral district, the sources said. The branch is headed by Nakajima.

When the two secretaries asked Nakajima to give them the “retirement allowances” of 1 million yen each, Nakajima flatly refused, saying he would not give them even 1 yen, the sources said. Myoen told police that rumors related to Nakajima’s alleged misappropriation of political funds began to spread in the constituency after the secretaries quit, implying the two were the source of the stories, the sources said.

Prosecutors also arrested three of his aides — Iida, Kaneko and Myoen — in connection with the alleged skimming. It has been reported that Nakajima skimmed off a portion of the salaries of the former secretaries that had been paid directly by the government to the secretaries’ bank accounts, by using their bankbooks and seals, which he kept.

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