• Kyodo

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Police have arrested a company president and a Korean resident here for allegedly organizing an “underground bank” and illegally transferring some 12 billion yen to South Korea on behalf of Koreans working in Japan, police officials said Monday.

Two residents of Fujisawa in Kanagawa Prefecture — Keizo Koshino, a 46-year-old company president, and Park Chong Su, 41, an executive with Koshino’s firm — are suspected of violating the Bank Law by conducting unauthorized banking operations between December 1997 and February 1999.

They are believed to have charged their “clients” fees lower than those charged by banks and profiting on the deals by remitting the money when the exchange rate was in favor of the yen.

Police are questioning a 55-year-old woman, a former operator of a video rental shop living in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, who is believed to have helped the suspects transfer the money.

Koshino and Park allegedly transferred the money — via the bank account of the company he works for — from bank branches in nine prefectures to accounts in South Korea, the officials alleged.

The money was then transferred from the South Korean accounts, which were held by individuals cooperating with the suspects, to designated accounts within South Korea.

According to investigations, Koshino, Park and the woman transferred about 2.3 million yen to payees on 18 occasions in the one-year period from March 1998 on behalf of three South Korean hostesses working in Himeji.

They are suspected of illegally receiving 38,000 yen in fees from the three hostesses, police said. They are believed to have had similar clients in various parts of Japan.

Police said they uncovered the case after discovering documents confiscated last November when they raided a nightclub in Himeji on suspicion that foreigners were working there illegally.