• Kyodo

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The chairman of Swiss Private Fund was sentenced Thursday to a suspended two-year prison term for soliciting private investments without government authorization and for loan-sharking.

The Osaka District Court convicted Masaru Wanaka, 58, whose firm falsely claimed it was Swiss-based, of illegally receiving 158 million yen from investors from May 2001 to July 2002 and then lending money to others with interest rates exceeding legal limits.

The court also fined him, the firm and two affiliates 1 million yen each.

Prosecutors had demanded a two-year prison term and a 1 million yen fine for Wanaka. But presiding Judge Masayuki Kawaai said the court decided to give him a sentence suspended for five years because he had apologized to the people who lost money in the investment scam.

Wanaka collected money by claiming the Osaka-based firm was part of a major international investment group headquartered in Switzerland. It collected more than 3 billion yen under the scam, according to Osaka police.

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