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OSAKA — A certified public accountant was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined 30 million yen Monday for accepting bribes and conspiring in window-dressing at the failed major photocopier maker Mita Industrial Co.

The ruling by the Osaka District Court is the first time a court has not suspended a prison term given to a CPA since accountants were made subject to bribery charges under the Commercial Code in 1982.

Presiding Judge Masayuki Kawaai accused Kunihiro Murai, 59, of “breach of trust as a professional expert, which damaged public trust in the corporate auditing system.”

According to the court, Murai, a former accountant hired by Mita as an external auditor, collaborated for several years with Mita President Yoshihiro Mita to falsify the company’s earnings reports.

Even though Mita did not earn enough profit to pay dividends to shareholders, the firm paid out a total of 1.13 billion yen in such dividends for five years through 1997.

At the request of Mita, Murai wrote in his auditing report that the firm’s accounting had been properly handled. As a reward, he received about 30 million yen in bribes between December 1995 and July 1998, the judge said.

Murai was arrested last year after the Osaka-based company went bankrupt. The firm is now seeking rehabilitation under bankruptcy procedures.

Mita, 60, a member of the firm’s founding family, is being tried separately. A ruling is expected in his case next Monday.

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