• Kyodo

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Three former audit committee members of a Kochi Prefecture village whose treasurer was found to have misused over 1.3 billion yen of public money have donated to village coffers some 1.8 million yen they received as payment for their services, it was learned Sunday.

A reconstruction committee set up by the village of Tosayama had suggested in February that the money be returned.

According to village officials, the donations were made by three of the seven members of the village’s audit committee who were members at the time the former treasurer, Tadao Iwasaki, 76, misappropriated the money. In December last year, Iwasaki was sentenced to 12 years in prison for embezzling 1.35 billion yen from the municipality between April 1999 and December 2000.

In handing down the ruling, the Kochi District Court pointed out that the village’s lax auditing system played a role in exacerbating the financial damage. The villagers themselves have submitted a petition to the local government calling for the establishment of an ordinance to hire outside auditors.

One of the former audit committee members who donated the money said, “I felt responsible, as I had been a member of the audit committee for six years but failed to notice the irregularities.”

Iwasaki used the mayor’s seal to falsify documents to take out loans from four financial institutions in the village’s name, and used the money to cover personal expenses, including gambling.

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