National

Mob figure owns up to overseeing loan-sharking enterprise

A mob figure accused of masterminding one of the nation’s most extensive loan-sharking rings pleaded guilty Monday before the Tokyo District Court.

Known as “the king of loan-sharking,” Susumu Kajiyama, a former senior member of an underworld group affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi, told the court he would plead guilty to all 14 counts against him.

Kajiyama had until now refrained from entering a plea in his trial, saying he wanted to wait until further facts came to light.

But on Monday he pleaded guilty to charges of violating the law regulating moneylenders and engaging in money-laundering.

At the same time, however, he told the court the specifics regarding the loan-sharking business were left to his subordinates, and he was unaware of the tactics they used to lend and collect money.

Kajiyama, 54, is accused of receiving roughly 4.14 million yen in interest from 13 customers between November 2001 and December 2002 through three moneylenders based in Toshima Ward, Tokyo. The interest charged on the loans greatly exceeded legal limits.

In addition, he opened an account in his name at the Hong Kong branch of Credit Suisse in February 2003. Money gained from selling 4.635 billion yen worth of discount bank debentures bought by using money from the loan-sharking business was allegedly deposited into this account.

Kajiyama is also accused of transferring some 1.14 billion yen in deposits and 3.96 billion yen worth of securities gained by investing that money into an unnamed account at a Swiss bank last year with the intention of concealing it.

Kajiyama is the first person to be indicted in a money-laundering case involving overseas financial institutions. Monday was the first time the money-laundering allegations were brought before the court.

Profits from Kajiyama’s loan-sharking business, allegedly a network involving about 1,000 loan sharks nationwide, are believed to have made their way into the Yamaguchi-gumi’s coffers.

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