Two aides to House of Representatives member Takanori Sakai were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of failing to report some 120 million yen in political donations from a supporter over a period of several years.
According to investigative sources, the aides to Sakai, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party elected from the Saga No. 1 district, failed to report most of the donations from a major temporary staff agency.
In the six or seven years up until around 2001, the donations amounted to about 12 million yen a year.
The arrested aides were identified as 38-year-old Aki Shionoya, a policy secretary whose salary is paid by the government, and 51-year-old Motomu Nakayama, a former aide.
The agent, Adeco Career Staff Ltd., has also been paying the salaries of some of Sakai’s secretaries, but Sakai’s office apparently failed to report this to the authorities even though such a practice is considered equal to a donation, the sources said.
The unreported donations are estimated at some 120 million yen, they said.
Sakai’s office released a statement denying the allegations and claiming that all political donations to the lawmaker have been properly processed through his fund-management body.
Following the aides’ arrests, however, Sakai told an LDP colleague that he would resign as chairman of the Lower House’s Health, Labor and Welfare Committee, according to party sources.
Special investigators from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office searched the aides’ Tokyo homes, as well as the lawmaker’s office in his home constituency in Saga.
The investigators have already questioned several people, including officials at Sakai’s fund-management body and former executives of Adeco Career Staff, according to the sources.
The sources said Adeco Career Staff, just one of the companies that support Sakai, donated around 1 million yen each month to Sakai’s office for six or seven years through 2001, with its executives delivering the money in cash to the aides.
But Shionoya and Nakayama mentioned only part of the donation in political funding reports submitted to authorities, the sources said.
In January, Tokyo prosecutors arrested management consultant Kichiro Tadamura, who had been offering advice to Adeco Career Staff, on suspicion that he had evaded income tax.
The prosecutors are believed to have obtained evidence during their probe into Tadamura’s tax evasion case that donations at Sakai’s office were improperly handled.
Sakai is a former Finance Ministry bureaucrat who was first elected to the Lower House in 1990.
After serving in several government posts, he became chairman of the Health, Labor and Welfare Committee of the Lower House in October.
In 2001, it was revealed that his office had received secret donations of about 1 million yen from a company linked to a mortgage-backed securities broker whose executives were arrested in a massive fraud case.
The executives of the firm, Daiwa Toshi Kanzai, have since been indicted over 110 billion yen they allegedly amassed in a bogus investment scheme.
Sakai admitted at that time that a former secretary had received the 1 million yen and failed to mention the money in the lawmaker’s political funds report. But he denied being personally involved, claiming the former aide had requested the donations from the firm.
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