• Kyodo

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The Kobe District Court on Thursday sentenced three former executives of a failed pro-Pyongyang credit union to suspended prison terms for evading a government probe in 2000.

The court handed down a one-year prison term to former Chogin Kinki Credit Cooperative President An Jong Ji, 56, suspended for three years; it gave eight-month terms, suspended for three years, to former vice presidents Ha Dae Gyong and Pak Ui Ung.

The three evaded a probe conducted by the Kinki Local Finance Bureau between May and October 2000 by withholding financial data on bad loans on behalf of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun).

Chogin Kinki, which was based in Kobe, took over bad loans from Chogin Kyoto Credit Cooperative and other Chogin unions. Five Chogin unions, including Chogin Kyoto, were merged into Chogin Kinki in 1997.

Presiding Judge Takahiro Urashima said in his ruling, “It was a premeditated, organized crime, ignoring the public nature of a financial institution and its social responsibility.”

At the same time, Urashima suspended the jail terms, saying there is room for leniency because they had been forced to take over bad loans by merging with Chogin Kyoto, which had concealed bad loans totaling about 60 billion yen.

It is the first ruling in a series of probe-evasion and illegal-loan incidents involving four now-defunct Chogin unions.

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