OSAKA — The Osaka High Court on Tuesday upheld prison sentences of up to 10 years for two executives of the now-defunct trading house Itoman Corp. for aggravated breach of trust and other charges.
Presiding Judge Akira Nasu rejected appeals filed by Yoshihiko Kawamura, 77, former president of Itoman, and Suemitsu Ito, 57, its former managing director, against an Osaka District Court ruling in 1999. Ito was sentenced to 10 years by the lower court and Kawamura received a seven-year term. They had pleaded not guilty.
During his trial, Kawamura said that extension of loans by Itoman was decided by management and that he did not intend to cause damage to the firm.
Ito said the titles of Itoman executives were only “nominal,” and therefore he should not be held criminally responsible for what he did.
According to the district court, Kawamura caused losses of 33.6 billion yen to Itoman by extending loans without sufficient collateral for golf-course development projects and cemeteries in 1989 and 1990. Ito was an accomplice in the case, the court ruled.
Ito also caused the trading house to suffer losses of 86.8 billion yen through dubious art investments, buying 211 items at inflated prices.
Heo Young Joong, 55, a real estate developer, received a prison term of seven years and six months and a $500 million fine in March 2001 for his part in the Itoman case.
The art objects, including paintings, were sold to Itoman by Heo’s firms.
The district court took nearly 10 years to pass judgment on Heo because he jumped bail and disappeared for about two years after he was allowed to visit South Korea for a memorial service for a relative of his wife. He was re-arrested in November 1999 at a Tokyo hotel.
The bad deals led to Itoman’s collapse and subsequent absorption in 1993 by Sumikin Bussan Kaisha Ltd., a subsidiary of Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd., bringing the trading house’s 110-year history to an end.
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