A “sokaiya” corporate racketeer was arrested Monday on suspicion of threatening scandal-hit Mitsubishi Motors Corp. with disruption of the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting, police said.

Sunao Kakihara, 48, of Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, allegedly telephoned the company’s public relations chief on Dec. 14 to say he was going to attend the June 26 shareholders’ meeting and disrupt the proceedings.

He is also suspected calling MMC’s 53-year-old chief of general affairs the same day to say that the Tokyo-based company’s cars were defective and that he would criticize MMC on a Web site run by his group of racketeers, led by Kaoru Ogawa.

MMC filed a complaint with police Dec. 24, police said.

Sokaiya are professional corporate blackmailers who typically threaten to disrupt shareholders’ meetings by asking management embarrassing questions or creating other disturbances.

Kakihara was previously arrested in November 1997 on suspicion of accepting 1.9 million yen from MMC as a reward for staying away from annual meetings for three years from 1995, in violation of the Commercial Code, police said.

MMC has been struggling after revelations last summer that it has been systematically concealing customer complaints about vehicle defects since around 1977.

Public prosecutors in April filed summary indictments against MMC and its top executives over the coverups in 1999.

MMC has reportedly been trying to sever its relationship with corporate racketeers since the illicit payoff scandal broke.

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