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Nippon Meat Packers Inc. improperly received excessive funds from the state under program to alleviate damage to the meat industry from the mad cow disease outbreak, Board of Audit officials said Friday.

A probe by the board found that Nippon Meat Packers, better known as Nippon Ham, asked for about 30 million yen more than the regulated amount when the company applied for the rescue program adopted by the government following the mad cow outbreak in September 2001.

The officials said Nippon Ham paid about 33 million yen, including interest, back to the state late last month in response to the finding.

Under the program, which was designed to protect meat companies from the impact of BSE, industry associations purchased beef from the wholesale market and sold it to consumers after prices had stabilized.

One of the industry bodies commissioned Nippon Ham to buy about 1,600 tons of beef and paid the firm about 600 million yen on request. It was about 30 million yen above the actual purchase price.

“We knew we had to ask for the purchase price outright. But we inadvertently added profits, mixing the transaction up with an ordinary business deal,” a Nippon Ham spokesman said.

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