A 52-year-old Tokyo policeman has been arrested for allegedly leaking confidential information, including criminal records, to a private detective agency run by a former high-ranking police officer.

Shunji Haneda, a sergeant at Ogu Police Station in Arawaka Ward, allegedly passed the information to agency president Koichi Horiuchi, a 42-year-old former assistant police inspector, and his 37-year-old colleague Mika Ochiai, both of whom were arrested on suspicion of abetting Haneda.

Investigators believe information on individual’s criminal records was continuously passed via Horiuchi’s personal connections with active officers, with the data then used for credit research.

They suspect Haneda retrieved the records from the police computer system at the request of Horiuchi and others and passed the information to them on nine occasions between mid-January 1999 through mid-May.

They said Haneda continued to leak information even when another Tokyo police sergeant, Tetsuro Shirakawa, was arrested in May on suspicion of selling confidential information to another detective agency. Shirakawa, 42, is currently on trial.

Investigators have also found that Horiuchi, through his police connections, learned around June that an internal investigation was being launched by the Metropolitan Police Department into the information leak.

In an apparent attempt to destroy evidence, he told his clients to destroy the documents that they had purchased from his agency, police sources said.

The Metropolitan Police suspects that other police officers may have also been involved in selling information and alerted Horiuchi about the investigation, the sources said.

Horiuchi left the department in December 1997 and established the detective agency a year later.

The firm called itself “private police” on its Internet Web site and attracted clients by emphasizing that “a group of former MPD officers will solve various difficult problems.”

The latest information leak came to light after police obtained a list of criminals compiled by the detective agency. The MPD questioned more than 20 officers who have access to relevant information, they said.

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