Senior officials of the former Sakura Bank collected donations from firms the bank was lending to for Junichiro Koizumi before he became prime minister, informed sources said Friday.

The officials of the major Tokyo-based bank, now part of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., solicited the donations during the 4 1/2 years from small and midsize firms until just before Koizumi took office in April 2001, they said.

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