OSAKA — Police turned over to prosecutors Sunday the case of a 56-year-old unemployed man arrested on suspicion of attempting to extort 20 million yen from Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Japan’s leading maker of eyedrops.
Takeshi Maeda, from Kadoma, Osaka Prefecture, was arrested Friday on suspicion of sending a bottle of tainted Santen eyedrops to the Osaka-based company along with a note demanding payment of 20 million yen.
The suspect, who reportedly had debts of several hundred thousand yen, reportedly told police investigators he did it for the money.
Santen, which received an extortion letter written in Maeda’s handwriting June 14, recalled some 2.5 million bottles of eyedrops that cost 300 million yen to produce. The company scrapped the eyedrops June 17.
The company announced the recall plan after the extortionist failed to collect the money at an Osaka department store at 3 p.m. June 15, as the letter stipulated.
Investigative sources said Santen received a letter of apology written in Maeda’s handwriting several days ago, expressing sorrow for causing “an uproar” following the extortion attempt.
“I didn’t realize, even in my dreams, that it would cause such a big uproar. I thought of turning myself in to police but I couldn’t bring myself to do it,” said the letter, which bore a Nagoya postmark.
A piece of incriminating paper Maeda allegedly left on a copy machine in a convenience store near his home led to his arrest.