Sachiyo Nomura arrested in tax probe

Sachiyo Nomura, the high-profile wife of Hanshin Tigers manager Katsuya Nomura, was arrested Wednesday for allegedly hiding roughly 570 million yen in income and evading 210 million yen in taxes.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office reportedly suspects the 69-year-old Nomura instructed relatives and others involved to lie to authorities to cover her tracks.

She has largely admitted to the charges, investigative sources said.

Early Thursday, Katsuya Nomura, manager of the Hanshin Tigers since 1999, announced his resignation to take moral responsibility for the scandal.

Katsuya Nomura, 66, made the announcement at the team’s office in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.

He flew there from Tokyo after being questioned by investigators Wednesday in connection with the suspected tax evasion, the sources said.

He told investigators he left everything concerning financial management to his wife and that he has no knowledge of her hiding income or evading taxes, the sources said, adding the investigators believe he was not directly involved in the case. A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said Sachiyo Nomura is so far the only target of the probe.

Investigators entered the couple’s home in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, shortly before 3 p.m. in the presence of more than 100 reporters and photographers, who had been waiting outside since early morning.

Investigative sources alleged that Sachiyo Nomura, a TV celebrity popularly known as “Sachii” who once ran unsuccessfully for the Lower House, hid some 570 million yen

In addition, she allegedly failed to declare most of the money she received as gratuities from parents of players on a youth baseball team that she owns.

She is also believed to have reported her husband’s income as Tigers manager, and her income from lectures, as revenues of the two firms.

Investigators suspect that she padded expenses by forging receipts and by fictitiously setting up her relatives as executives of the companies without their consent and then making it appear the firms paid them, the sources said.

Up to May, Katsuya Nomura was registered as a board member representing the firm Nomura.

Tax authorities have been unofficially probing the allegations surrounding Nomura since March. They upgraded their investigation to an official one in May after suspicions of a coverup surfaced.

Particularly damaging to Nomura were allegations made by her son, Kenny Nomura, 42, who was born to her and her previous husband.

Kenny Nomura, who lives in the U.S., relayed in weekly magazine articles and a book the contents of a telephone conversation with his mother in which she allegedly asked him to cooperate in covering up the tax evasion.

He said he received a call from Japanese tax authorities in March telling him that his name was registered as an executive of the companies run by Sachiyo Nomura.

He claimed he was completely unaware that income reports stated he was being paid. “I decided to expose the facts to clear myself of any suspicions,” he said in the articles.

He also submitted to tax authorities a tape recording of his conversation with his mother, who reportedly told him to “tell (the tax authorities) that you don’t understand Japanese.”

The contents of the recording were also released to the media.

Nomura has refused to comment on the allegations. In a news conference in September, she dismissed Kenny Nomura’s remarks as “the cries of a child,” but never replied to questions about the suspected tax evasion.

Hanshin Tigers owner Shunjiro Kuma told reporters following her arrest that he would discuss with Katsuya Nomura his future with the team.

Katsuya Nomura led the Yakult Swallows to Japan Series championships in 1993, 1995 and 1997 before moving to the Hanshin Tigers in 1999.

Sachiyo Nomura became known as the wife of the renowned baseball manager and appeared on a number of TV talk shows.

Amid her growing fame, she ran unsuccessfully in 1996 for the Lower House on the proportional representation ticket of the now-defunct opposition party Shinshinto led by Ichiro Ozawa, now the leader of the Liberal Party.

Sachiyo Nomura was later accused of fabricating her personal history during her campaign — falsely claiming to have studied at Columbia University — but she was never charged.

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