Former Tokyo Metropolitan Assemblyman Tai Yamazaki was given a suspended 30-month prison term and fined 2.5 million yen Thursday for conspiring with a broker who overcharged for mediating low-interest loans for small businesses.
The Tokyo District Court found Yamazaki, 39, guilty of accepting a total of some 4.2 million yen from the broker, management consultant Yoshihiko Noutomi, 73, as a reward for using his influence as an assembly member to arrange the loans.
Yamazaki later used the money, which amounted to 2 percent of the loans extended, to cover his dining and entertainment expenses, according to the court.
Presiding Judge Masaaki Kawaguchi, who suspended the sentence for three years, said Yamazaki’s betrayal of the public’s trust in politicians was grave.
“There is a high likelihood that parties that (under regular circumstances) would have been deemed ineligible to receive the loans got the funding and later were unable to repay, leading to the use of public funds to make up for the shortfall,” the judge said.
During the trial, the former lawmaker owned up to the charges brought against him and apologized for his actions, saying they were “rash and irresponsible” for a politician.
According to Thursday’s ruling, Yamazaki conspired with his former secretary, Susumu Wada, 43, and Noutomi to arrange loans on nine occasions between September 1998 and May 1999. The commissions charged for arranging the loans exceeded the 5 percent legal limit. Wada has already been found guilty of similar charges.
Yamazaki told Credit Guarantee Corp. of Tokyo, an affiliate of the former Ministry of International Trade and Industry, to extend the loans requested by small businesses.
The Tokyo loan guarantee corporation is one of a number of agencies nationwide that offer guarantees to small firms under a special government program launched in 1998 to provide liquidity to businesses suffering from financial institutions’ stringent lending practices by offering guarantees for loans that do not have to be secured.
Yamazaki was arrested in November — the first time in 35 years that an incumbent Tokyo assembly member was arrested — and resigned as a legislator on Feb. 20.
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