Tokyo Gas Co. said Tuesday that the Mizuho financial group knew it was having problems integrating the computer systems of its three component banks before the April 1 merger.

Tokyo Gas officials said that in late March a test in which data from the utility’s large-lot customers were sent to Mizuho’s integrated computer system ended in failure.

Mizuho, however, denied that such a test had been conducted, though it admitted to receiving client data from Tokyo Gas in mid-March.

“But we did not take that as a request from the utility for tests,” a Mizuho spokesman said. “We looked into the data and returned them to Tokyo Gas” without conducting any tests.

The revelation by Tokyo Gas follows reports from Tokyo Electric Power Co. that Mizuho turned down its requests to conduct computer tests.

A Tepco spokesman said that the firm asked Mizuho twice in February for computer tests, but that Mizuho refused.

On April 1, Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Fuji Bank and Industrial Bank of Japan merged into Mizuho Bank and Mizuho Corporate Bank, under Mizuho Holdings Inc.

Computer trouble erupted immediately, eventually causing 7,000 automated teller machines to malfunction and thousands of customers to be double-billed for utility charges.

Tokyo Gas officials said that in January, the company asked Mizuho to conduct the tests on the new computer system, but Mizuho turned them down, saying they were too busy integrating their operations.

In March, Tokyo Gas again asked for a test and this time Mizuho agreed. On March 15, Tokyo Gas sent customer data to Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank to test new numbers for the bank’s new branches.

On March 22, Mizuho informed Tokyo Gas that the test had failed, according to Tokyo Gas officials.

Tokyo Gas subsequently asked Mizuho to make customer payments in April and later by using accounts with the branch numbers that existed before the integration.

As of Monday, Tokyo Gas had not received transfers from Mizuho totaling 2.2 billion yen.

Tokyo Gas has around 9 million customers in the Tokyo metropolitan area, of whom about 80 percent pay by bank transfer. Around 1.2 million payments a month originate from Mizuho accounts, Tokyo Gas officials said.

Mizuho off the hook

The Japanese Bankers Association will not take action against Mizuho Holdings Inc., whose system glitches since the end of March continue to cause concern for customers and regulators, said Masashi Teranishi, newly appointed chairman of the JBA.

“Mizuho’s problems are limited (to Mizuho),” said Teranishi, who is also president of UFJ Bank. “Mizuho is doing its utmost to resolve its problems, and I hope that it will do so quickly.”

If the lurches cause problems in the entire banking system, the JBA may consider amending its data telecommunications system and clearing house to temporarily help process delayed fund transfers, he said.

Teranishi said the banking industry will work on three basic issues in the current fiscal year: winning back public trust, enhancing competition in financial markets, and making banks more convenient for customers.

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