Police are set to serve a fresh arrest warrant on Katsutoshi Matsuo, a former Foreign Ministry logistics chief, later this week on suspicion of a new case of fraud again involving padding hotel bills for overseas trips by prime ministers, police sources said Sunday.
Matsuo, 55, was arrested March 10 for allegedly swindling some 42 million yen by padding expenses such as hotel bills for three trips involving two prime ministers — Ryutaro Hashimoto and Keizo Obuchi — from the Cabinet Secretariat’s discretionary funds for diplomatic activities from 1997 through 1999.
The Metropolitan Police Department is gathering evidence to arrest him again for swindling funds in a similar fashion for most of the other official trips he handled for prime ministers, the sources said.
As head of the ministry’s defunct Overseas Visit Support Division, Matsuo arranged 46 tours from November 1993 to July 1999 for Prime Ministers Morihiro Hosokawa, Tsutomu Hata, Tomiichi Murayama, Hashimoto and Obuchi.
Police are now focusing on two trips made by Obuchi in November 1998, the sources said.
Police are likely to serve a fresh arrest warrant on Matsuo by Friday, just before the detention period for him from the initial arrest warrant expires Saturday, according to the sources.
Obuchi’s two 1998 trips were a visit to Russia from Nov. 11 to 14 and another to Malaysia from Nov. 16 to 19.
For the Russian trip, police believe Matsuo submitted receipts to the prime minister’s office for hotel accommodations in St. Petersburg, even though the premier’s entourage of around 80 officials did not stay in the city, the sources said.
A total of 200 officials accompanied Obuchi on the Malaysia trip for a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Investigators say Matsuo requested around 20 million yen from discretionary funds handled by the prime minister’s office even though most expenses for the trip were covered by the government’s expense account.
The Foreign Ministry dismissed Matsuo on Jan. 25 after an internal probe indicated he stole at least 54 million yen in public funds from October 1997 to March 1999.
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