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Police are to question a 56-year-old Foreign Ministry official in connection with the latest fraud case to hit the ministry involving alleged padding of hotel bills.

The assistant director at the ministry’s European Affairs Bureau is suspected of defrauding the government out of several million yen by having a Tokyo hotel overcharge the ministry’s account and personally using the hotel with the padded funds, police sources said Tuesday.

The Chiyoda Ward hotel has been used as a venue for international conferences handled by the ministry. It allegedly pooled the overcharged money and allowed the assistant director to use the hotel free of charge.

The official, who is in charge of logistics, is suspected of frequently using the hotel for personal purposes, included dining with a female acquaintance, the sources said. The suspect has not been named.

According to the ministry, its contracts with hotels for international conferences are optional and several hotels in Tokyo are frequent recipients of orders due mainly to their better security.

Investigators suspect the assistant director helped the hotel become the venue for international conferences and accommodate foreign dignitaries in return for its cooperation in the alleged fraud.

The official has denied the allegations, claiming that venues for international conferences are decided by the embassies of countries participating in the events and that the ministry is not in collusion with the hotel.

“I did nothing wrong. If there is somebody who says I did do such a thing, please bring that person here,” the assistant director said.

During the Group of Eight summit last year in Okinawa, the assistant director worked with Katsutoshi Matsuo, the official at the center of a widespread fraud and embezzlement scandal that broke in January involving the ministry’s logistics operations.

Matsuo has been charged with swindling the government out of 507 million yen in discretionary funds while in charge of coordinating overseas trips by prime ministers.

Earlier this month, two Foreign Ministry officials were charged with misusing about 22 million yen in public funds by padding limousine bills related to the Okinawa summit and last month, Makoto Mizutani, the consul general in Denver, was dismissed for mishandling about $81,600 in public funds between 1999 and 2000.

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