SAITAMA – Prosecutors searched the office of Saitama Gov. Yoshihiko Tsuchiya on Friday in connection with his daughter’s arrest the previous day over unreported political donations.
Investigators from the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office are trying to determine whether the governor had known about the 113 million yen in unreported donations to his fundraising group, prosecution sources said.
They suspect Tsuchiya may have been informed of the matter by his daughter, Momoko Ichikawa, 53, and may have approved keeping the money off the books, the sources said.
On Thursday, Tokyo prosecutors arrested Ichikawa and another member of Tsuchiya’s fundraising group for allegedly hiding more than 110 million yen in donations over a five year span.
Investigators suspect that Ichikawa diverted most of the unreported donations to make up for her stock investment losses as well as to cover the operational costs of her consulting firm, the sources said.
Addressing the day’s session of the prefectural assembly, Tsuchiya said there was no room for excuses and he was very sorry.
“I myself am doing some serious soul-searching” on the scandal, he said.
During a news conference Thursday night, Tsuchiya apologized to the people of Saitama Prefecture but ruled out stepping down to take responsibility, claiming he knew nothing about money matters at his political fund management office.
Prosecutors said Friday that Ichikawa and Harumi Ozaki, 54, did not issue receipts for most of the donations companies made to the governor.
The prosecutors said they suspect the pair did not issue receipts because they did not want to record the contributions in an official fund report.
Even some donations backed by receipts were missing from the report, the prosecutors said.
Tsuchiya, who was first elected Saitama governor in 1992 and is in his third term, is a veteran politician who once served as president of the House of Councilors and chief of the Environment Agency, now the Environment Ministry.
The prosecutors said Ichikawa instructed Ozaki to underreport political funds for the governor between 1998 and 2002 by hiding 113 million yen, and to not issue receipts for donations. Most of the hidden donations were not backed by receipts, they said.
Ichikawa is the accountant for her father’s political fund management office, called the Local Administration Research Institute. Ozaki is an administrator in the office.
The two women also allegedly kept an accurate log of fund flows, separate from the official report required under the Political Funds Control Law.
The political fund scam surfaced while the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office was looking into a corporate fund misappropriation involving Duskin Co., an Osaka-based firm that runs a cleaning equipment franchise and restaurant services.
According to investigative sources, Ichikawa’s consulting firm, Peach, received 10 million yen from Duskin. Prosecutors searched the firm and Ichikawa’s home. But no formal charges have been leveled against Peach.
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