The Tokyo District Court sentenced the leader of a group of “sokaiya” corporate racketeers Tuesday to eight months in prison for extorting 22.3 million yen from five of Japan’s top firms in exchange for a promise not to disrupt their shareholders’ meetings.

Terubo Tei, 54, took the money in violation of the Commercial Code between June 1995 and September 1997 from Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Toshiba Corp., Mitsubishi Estate Co. and Hitachi Ltd., according to the court.

The court sentenced Kaoru Hamada, 41, a member of Tei’s sokaiya group, to four months in prison, suspended for three years, for his role in receiving 11.4 million yen of the 22.3 million yen.

Although the payments were ostensibly made as rental fees for a beach house run by Tei’s wife on Katase beach in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, hardly any employees from the five firms used the facility, the court said.

The payments were aimed at buying Tei’s assurance that he would not disrupt shareholder meetings held by the firms, according to the court.

Presiding Judge Ritsuro Uemura said Tei’s deals with the companies showed close ties between sokaiya and some corporations, seriously damaging public confidence in the credibility of Japanese companies.

Public prosecutors had demanded a nine-month prison term for Tei and four months for Hamada. During his trial, Tei admitted receiving the money.

Eight former officials from the five firms have received suspended prison terms in the payoff case.

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