Tax authorities found 30.9 billion yen in tax evasion cases in fiscal 2001, the same level as in the early 1980s and a reflection of the sluggish economy, according to a National Tax Agency tally released Wednesday.

The figure rose by about 3.8 billion yen from fiscal 2000, when the sum dropped below 30 billion yen for the first time in 20 years.

As in previous years, various means of tax evasion were reported in the survey, including illegal accounting, misuse of overseas transactions, and changing assets into discount bonds or gold bullion and concealing them in homes or car trunks.

In one case, discount bonds worth more than 100 million yen were concealed in “zabuton” cushions in the home of a relative of the tax evader. In another, 50 kg of gold bullion worth about 70 million yen was discovered in safety deposit boxes rented by relatives of the tax dodger.

According to the tally, the highest amount of income tax evasion was about 400 million yen involving a deceased construction company chairman in Yamagata Prefecture. As for corporate tax, the highest sum was about 1.1 billion yen involving the talent agency Freegate Promotion Co.

By industry, pachinko parlor businesses, known for doing well during economic downturns, topped the list with 13 cases, followed by the construction industry with 12.

Tax authorities across Japan probed 212 evasion cases in fiscal 2001, up seven from fiscal 2000. In 151 of the 212, the authorities filed criminal complaints with public prosecutors, up five from the previous year.

The 151 cases included tax evasion involving a former head of the Sapporo Regional Taxation Bureau and one involving Sachiyo Nomura, a TV personality and the wife of former Hanshin Tigers manager Katsuya Nomura.

The average amount of tax evasion in fiscal 2001 was 146 million yen, up 14 million yen from fiscal 2000. The amounts topped 300 million yen in 26 cases, up four cases, and 500 million yen in eight cases, up three.

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