Saburo Sato, a former top aide of ex-Lower House lawmaker Koichi Kato, was served a fresh arrest warrant Tuesday on suspicion of failing to declare 150 million yen that he received from talent agency Rising Production Co., investigative sources said.

Investigators from the Tokyo District Public District Prosecutor’s Office believe Sato, 61, thus evaded income tax payments of around 74 million yen, the sources said.

Until January, Sato served as chief accountant of a fund management body for Kato, a former heavyweight of the Liberal Democratic Party who resigned from the House of Representatives in early April to take responsibility for Sato’s suspected misconduct.

Sato resigned from his post amid initial tax-evasion allegations.

Prosecutors believe Sato was deeply involved in the suspected misappropriation of political funds for Kato. They have already questioned Kato himself over the matter, and are in the process of deciding whether the ex-lawmaker should be held criminally responsible, the sources said.

According to prosecutors, Sato received 150 million yen in cash from Rising Production in June 1997. The firm in question later changed its name to Freegate Promotion Co.

Tetsuo Taira, then president of Rising Production, ordered one of his subordinates to deliver the cash to Sato at the lawmaker’s office in Tokyo on two separate occasions, they said.

Taira is currently being tried over separate corporate income law violations.

Taira believed at the time that police were conducting a secret probe into an illegal casino he frequented, the sources said.

He was thus urging Sato to exert his influence as secretary of the powerful lawmaker to block a potential police investigation of him, they said.

There is no evidence, however, that Sato did in fact exert pressure of this kind on the Metropolitan Police Department, they said.

Sato was arrested in March on suspicion of evading 104 million yen in taxes by concealing 277 million yen in income in the three years through 2000.

Tax chief pleads guilty

Tsunekichi Hamada, former head of the Sapporo Regional Taxation Bureau, pleaded guilty Tuesday to evading 250 million yen in income taxes.

In his first trial session before the Tokyo District Court, Hamada, 64, a tax accountant and adviser, admitted failing to declare about 740 million yen in income from 1997 to 2000 in violation of the Income Tax Law.

Hamada is accused of failing to declare most of the commissions he collected for advising more than 100 companies on how to reduce their tax bills, and of padding his office expenses.

The talent agency Rising Production Co., now called Freegate Promotion Co., which manages popular singer Namie Amuro, was one of his clients.

The founder of Rising Production, Tetsuo Taira, was arrested in October along with eight others on suspicion of evading corporate taxes in the three business years to August 1999. They were charged with evading about 1.18 billion yen in taxes.

Hamada joined the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau in 1956 after graduating from high school in Chiba Prefecture. After serving as a secretary to the National Tax Agency chief, he was made chief personnel inspector at the agency. He headed the Sapporo bureau for one year from May 1995 before his retirement in 1996.

After retiring, he served as a tax consultant to some 200 companies, and had more than 200 million yen in annual income.

Hamada allegedly used some of the undeclared income to purchase a new residence in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, in October 1999, and put the rest of the money into savings accounts.

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