NAGOYA (Kyodo) Chubu Electric Power Co. Chairman Hiroji Ota on Tuesday resigned over questionable antique art purchases totaling nearly 600 million yen, the company said.

The chairman’s post will be left vacant for the time being, it said.

According to sources familiar with the case, Ota bought 262 pieces of antique Chinese art for 580 million yen from an art dealer he knew in Nagoya between 1999 and 2002 without reporting it to the company.

Only 10 percent of the pieces came with written expert appraisals of their value, the sources said.

The purchases came to light recently when tax authorities audited the art dealer.

Chubu Electric’s compliance promotion panel, which includes lawyers and labor union representatives, began investigating the case in June.

Ota initially insisted there were no problems with the purchases. But he resigned after criticism of the purchases began mounting both within and outside of the company.

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