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Former top officials of Mizuho Holdings Inc. should either repay their retirement allowances or have them reduced as a means of accepting responsibility for the massive computer debacle that threw operations at the firm’s two banks into chaos in April, Financial Services Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa said Friday.

“I hope the banking group will deal with the issue strictly,” Yanagisawa said.

Mizuho Holdings has said it will freeze retirement allowance payments for Masao Nishimura, Yoshiro Yamamoto and Katsuyuki Sugita, who were joint chief executive officers of Mizuho Holdings until March 31 and have been special advisers since April 1.

Massive computer glitches occurred immediately after the April 1 launch of Mizuho Bank and Mizuho Corporate Bank.

Operations at the two banks descended into chaos, with customers being double-billed for utility charges and most of the banks’ 7,000 automated teller machines malfunctioning.

Mizuho Holdings was created through the merger of Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Fuji Bank and Industrial Bank of Japan.

Yanagisawa expressed general satisfaction, however, with the disciplinary measures announced by the Mizuho financial group last week.

“I think punitive actions were taken, as the current management considered steps to clarify responsibility. Overall, those actions are not insufficient,” he said.

The penalties unveiled by Mizuho include a 50 percent pay cut for six months for Mizuho Holdings President Terunobu Maeda, Mizuho Bank President Tadashi Kudo and Mizuho Corporate Bank President Hiroshi Saito.

Other senior Mizuho executives will suffer pay cuts of between 15 percent and 30 percent.

As for the responsibility of the Financial Services Agency, Yanagisawa said the top financial regulator will fulfill its duties by striving to prevent a recurrence of the problems.

Tokyo warns Mizuho

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said Friday it will require Mizuho Holdings Inc. to swiftly improve its computer systems. The banking group experienced a massive system failure in April.

“The (Mizuho computer) system has a fundamental problem,” Gov. Shintaro Ishihara told a regular news conference. “We cannot rule out the possibility of a similar failure happening again.”

Tokyo pools some of its tax revenue at Mizuho banks.

Ishihara added that the metropolitan government will continue to keep an eye on the firm.

The announcement, which followed a city investigation of the banking giant begun May 21, comes in the wake of orders issued by the Financial Services Agency to improve business operations.

Tokyo will continue to deposit some of its funds at Mizuho banks but plans to discuss in early July whether the current portfolio of Tokyo’s designated deposits is correct.

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