National

Seibu 'sokaiya' perk nets suspended term

A former Seibu Railway Co. managing director was sentenced to a suspended 18-month prison term Tuesday for providing as much as 187 million yen in benefits to a “sokaiya” corporate extortionist and his accomplices in 2001 so they wouldn’t disrupt a shareholders’ meeting.

Seiichi Ikura, 65, was convicted by the Tokyo District Court of selling company-owned land to the racketeers at prices well below market value in violation of the Commercial Code.

Nine other employees and former employees of the private railway were also sentenced to suspended prison terms ranging from eight to 18 months.

“The defendants’ deeds, which provided well over 100 million yen to an antisocial force such as a corporate extortionist, caused huge losses to Seibu Railway and its shareholders,” presiding Judge Kunihiko Koma said in handing down the ruling.

The acts merit severe criticism because they significantly damaged society’s trust in the equitability of corporate management, the judge added.

The defendants systematically tried to conceal the crime by preparing documents indicating the land was sold at reasonable prices, he said.

The other nine on trial were Norihiro Kanno, 60, former head of Seibu public relations and a board member; Masaru Kojima, 55, former head of the company’s real estate department and also a board member; Sadanori Kimura, 55, of the firm’s property administration department; Takeo Nishizawa, 63, former president of Seibu Real Estate Sales Co.; Reijiro Kuboyama, 57, its former executive; and Seibu Real Estate Sales Co. staff members Shigemitsu Nishikawa, 54, Kenichi Wakao, 42, Kazuhide Udagawa, 56, and Kenichi Sugiyama, 57.

All of the executives resigned when the crime came to light.

According to the court, sokaiya Ryuga Haga, 75, conspired with two secretaries and three real estate dealers to buy land from Seibu Railway at prices far below market value.

A police investigation showed one of the realtors found that Seibu had in the past granted such benefits to certain firms through a former executive of a political association, and thought the same could be done through Haga, who had gained notoriety as a racketeer.

Haga became an adviser to two real estate firms owned by his coconspirators, and purchased 1,000 shares in Seibu Railway in November 2000 — just enough to be able to attend shareholders’ meetings, police said.

Because Haga threatened to disrupt Seibu Railway’s 2001 shareholders’ meeting, Ikura agreed to sell three plots of land in Kanagawa Prefecture, in January, May and October 2001, to the two realtors, providing them with 89 million yen in profit from the resale of the first two plots alone, the court said.

Together with profit made on the third plot, the total amount of benefits extended to the Haga side reportedly came to as much as 187 million yen.

Coronavirus banner