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Tokyo police raided the headquarters of Nippon Shinpan Co., popularly known as Nicos, on Sunday after allegations surfaced that its executives had paid off a racketeer.

The payments are said to have been made to ensure there would be no disruptions at the firm’s general shareholders meetings.

The search came a day after a senior managing director and seven other officials of the leading Japanese consumer credit firm were arrested on suspicion of giving some 28 million yen in cash to the racketeer in violation of the Commercial Code.

About 20 Metropolitan Police Department officers entered Nippon Shinpan’s head office in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward while other officers searched some 10 other locations in Tokyo related to the case.

Police said Yoshihisa Oshio, 62, Nippon Shinpan’s senior managing director, and the seven others are suspected of remitting a total of 28.35 million yen to the bank account of racketeer Kikuo Kondo, 60. The payments allegedly occurred between late November 1999 and late September this year in exchange for Kondo’s cooperation at the meetings.

Kondo, of Tokyo’s Suginami Ward, was arrested Saturday.

Nippon Shinpan has allegedly been remitting cash to Kondo every month since December 1991 to September this year, police sources said. The total paid is said to be nearly 80 million yen. The investigation does not focus on the earlier years because of a three-year statute of limitations.

Given the length of the alleged payments, the searches are expected to focus on whether the company’s leaders had any involvement in the payoff.

Among the seven other Nippon Shinpan officials arrested Saturday were Shigeji Ishikawa, 55, an executive director; Eiji Ochiai, 58, chief of the general affairs department; and Kazuhiko Kaya, 59, a former head of the same department.

Kondo began his activities as a “sokaiya” corporate racketeer named Shinichiro Dai around 1970 and once belonged to a group of racketeers affiliated with the crime syndicate Sumiyoshi-kai. He is now an executive at a clothing-rental firm.

Nippon Shinpan is listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Established in 1951, it has about 5,300 employees and posted group revenues of 348 billion yen in fiscal 2001, which ended in March.

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